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Thursday, February 16, 2017

A CP Guide to OTC Products

In any pharmacy or grocery store or place that sells oral cough and cold products, there are rows and rows and shelves upon shelves with products "begging for your filthy dirty dollar. Shut up and buy!" How does one decide what product is correct for their particular symptom(s)? Simple, ask the pharmacist...Then ignore her advice and go with your friend's sister's hairdresser's customer's second cousin's recommendation.
The next time you are overwhelmed, simply break down the aisle into these categories:

1. Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer. Almost always Acetaminophen (Tylenol) but sometimes Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin--same thing and you can't argue one works better than the other.)
2. Antihistamine: Usually diphenhydramine (Benadryl), sometimes chlorpheniramine or brompheniramine.
3. Nasal Decongestant: always phenylephrine if you don't see the Rx staff for it. Pretty worthless.
4. Cough Suppressant: Always Dextromethorphan.
5. Mucolytic: Always Guaifenesin.

That's it. Nothing more to it. The only reason there are so many products is that there are so many manufacturers and brands marketing themselves to you. Basically, the only thing you need to look at is will the product you buy alleviate the symptoms you have? If you remove the pain reliever from the equation, then the job is easier. Most people have either or both of these at home.

Forget the "Sinus", "Allergy", "Cold", or "Flu" designations placed on the boxes. They are as worthless as they box on which they are printed. "Words are wind."

Do I have pain? A headache? Then a pain reliever is right for you.

Do I have a runny nose? Itchy, watery eyes? Drainage? A cough? (Basically, if it's leaking and it shouldn't, you want an antihistamine.)

Is my nose stuffy? My head congested? (Basically if it's not running and it should, you want the good stuff-the pseudoephedrine from behind the pharmacy counter.)

Am I coughing? Is it dry? Seriously, get an antihistamine. Forget the DM. Doesn't work.

Am I coughing up bits from my lungs? Get the Guaifenesin. Best bet is Plain Mucinex. Blue Box. And drink lots of water.

In all seriousness, buy individual products where able. Combination products will almost always have you taking something you don't need for a symptom you don't have. Worse yet, you could be taking a combination that does not include a medication to treat the symptom you DO have. It is easier (I did not say more convenient) to add or subtract single ingredients as symptoms come or go than it is to take multiple combination ingredients that won't work.

When in doubt, ask your pharmacist.
Then take her advice.

I thinking we should make a survey sheet of symptoms.
These could be available at the pharmacy counter or online.
The patient could check the box or circle the symptoms of each family member when they get to the pharmacy or from home (especially before sending their husband or kids).
The pharmacy staff would then hand the appropriate product(s) to the patient after reviewing the list.
Someone should make this for me so I can post it.

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