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Cold and Cough Medicines

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Summary

Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing -- everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. Every year, adults get about 2-3 colds, and children get even more.

What can you do for your cold or cough symptoms? Besides drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest, you may decide to take medicines. There are lots of different cold and cough medicines, and they do different things.

  • Nasal decongestants - unclog a stuffy nose
  • Cough suppressants - quiet a cough
  • Expectorants - loosen mucus so you can cough it up
  • Antihistamines - stop runny noses and sneezing
  • Pain relievers - ease fever, headaches, and minor aches and pains

Before taking these medicines, read the labels carefully. Many cold and cough medicines contain the same active ingredients. For example, taking too much of certain pain relievers can lead to serious injury. Do not give cold or cough medicines to children under four, and don't give aspirin to children. Finally, antibiotics won't help a cold.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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  • (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
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Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Related Issues

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • (Food and Drug Administration) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

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Children

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Food and Drug Administration)

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
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