Choosing wisely: Navigating cold relief with OTC and prescription meds

Choosing wisely: Navigating cold relief with OTC and prescription meds
Choosing wisely: Navigating cold relief with OTC and prescription meds

United States: Having a cold, cough or other flu-like symptoms has become common among the general population, but the major concern is the best way to treat the viruses. Medic experts claimed that the key point is knowing the options that can alleviate the symptoms and knowing the major difference.

During an interview with Fox News Digital, a pharmacist and associate professor in the Division of Pharmacy Practice at Long Island University in Brooklyn – Dr Elaena Quattrocchi, was quoted as, “A prescription medication requires authorization from a health care provider, and an over-the-counter medication allows you to self-treat conditions such as colds, allergies, headaches and joint pain.”

Dr Quattrocchi added, “You can buy OTC medications in a pharmacy, but also in supermarkets and other stores.” She furthermore expressed that a patient must take prescription medications only if advised by a health care professional. However, it is to be informed that some of the medications are for both OTC and prescription – depending on the dose and length of time.

She furthermore stated, during the engagement with Fox News Digital, “Prescription medications are better for treating the flu since there are antiviral agents that can be prescribed. The medications must be given in a timely fashion or they will not work.”

Choosing wisely: Navigating cold relief with OTC and prescription meds | Credits: LightFieldStudio

According to Quattrocchi, evidence of efficacy is lacking in a majority of the drugs for cold and flu. She furthermore informed that if the cold stays for long or infections get worse after getting better, then this could be due to an underlying infection that must be treated through medical attention.

What other experts have to say?

According to the reports by Fox News Digital, the chair of the department of medicine and chief of infectious disease at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Long Island, New York – Dr Aaron E Glatt said, “The only tried-and-tested treatments for influenza are the FDA-approved antivirals. Certainly, they are not anywhere near perfect and should be used as appropriate under a physician’s guidance.”

Glatt emphasized symptom relief and said, “Over-the-counter remedies will at best provide improvement a couple of hours earlier, but could also have potential toxicities and side effects that may be worse than those few hours of symptom relief.”

Furthermore, the associate chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York – Dr Frederick Davis, was quoted saying that the prime ‘job’ of the majority of the medications for viral infections is symptom control.

“Some prescription medications might target a specific virus—like Paxlovid for COVID or Tamiflu in cases of flu,” he said, adding, “These prescription drugs might reduce the severity or duration of symptoms.”

Choosing wisely: Navigating cold relief with OTC and prescription meds | Credits: Unsplash

What are the potential side effects of the medications?

The experts, including Davis and Glatt, cautioned the general public about the side effects of OTC and mentioned that if a drug is available for free, that doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for every individual.

While further elaborating, Davis underlined that an ingredient found in the majority of OTC medications – Pseudoephedrine can result in side effects, including difficulty sleeping, dizziness and nervousness.

“It can also increase blood pressure, which can be a concern for those who already have elevated blood pressure,” he further added, as per the reports by Fox News Digital.

In addition to this, experts quoted about some nasal decongestant spray, such as Afrin – medication for sinus and nasal congestion. However, it can result in rebound congestion if used for more than three days.

OTC medications for children

In addition to this, the experts and pharmacists stated that it is not safe to offer OTC medications to children. “OTC medications should never be given to children without consulting their pediatricians,” she told Fox News Digital, adding, “The FDA doesn’t recommend OTC medications for cough and cold symptoms in children younger than two years of age because they can cause serious side effects.”

It is to be noted that Quattrocchi also stated that a child should not be given the medication that is for adults. She was quoted saying, “For children, never use aspirin-containing products to treat a fever. Do not use honey in children under 12 months old, as it can contain bacteria that can cause botulism,” according to reports by Fox News Digital.

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