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Introduction to cold, flu, and allergy treatments
Every year, millions of people use over-the-counter (OTC) products to relieve nasal
stuffiness and congestion, sneezing, runny noses, sore throat, and
cough. The common causes of these symptoms include the viruses that cause the common cold, influenza
virus, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and sinus infections (sinusitis). Viral infections can also
cause headache, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever. Hay fever symptoms
can also include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and watery eyes.
To benefit from OTC products for cold, flu, and allergy,
it is important to understand (1) the condition causing the symptoms, (2) the
predominant symptom(s) one wishes to
relieve, and (3) the active ingredient(s) in the product.
Some OTC products contain a single active ingredient
medication to relieve one symptom. Many others contain a
combination of two, three, and even four active ingredient
medications to treat several symptoms at once. Selecting
the right product can be difficult at times.
Here we have categorized products for cold/flu/allergy
according to the predominant symptoms they relieve:
Headaches, body aches, fever, and flu-like symptoms
Nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing
Since cold and flu sufferers usually experience several symptoms, products containing medication combinations provide convenience. Therefore, you may need to take only one product as compared with two to four products. You also may need to stock fewer items in the medicine cabinet. Nevertheless, it is preferable to take products that contain only those medications you need for relieving the symptoms that are present, and you may not need products designed to relieve multiple symptoms at once. This prevents the ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects. It is also easier to adjust the dose of a single ingredient medicine to maximize relief of a predominant symptom and minimize side effects.