Under the weather? There is no cure for cold or flu but there are a myriad of 
formulas that can help to manage the symptoms. *MCT Photo
Under the weather? There is no cure for cold or flu but there are a myriad of formulas that can help to manage the symptoms. *MCT Photo

When cold or flu strikes and you feel awful, the last thing you want to do is run to the store for supplies. In fact, to avoid spreading germs, going out is the last thing you should do. Instead, keep a cold and flu survival kit handy so that when you start to feel sick, you’ll have everything you need to take care of yourself.

Thermometer

Every cold and flu kit needs a thermometer. Monitoring temperature is very important as a persistent fever could be a sign of a more serious illness and you should see your doctor. Remember to wash the thermometer in lukewarm soapy water and rinse in cool water before using.

Pain reliever/fever reducer

Cold and flu symptoms frequently include fever, chills, sore throat, headache and body aches, which all respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Tylenol. Be very cautious with these medications, however, as their active ingredients, such as acetaminophen, are also found in other types of cold and flu medication. Make sure you’re not accidentally doubling up on doses as it could lead to severe liver damage.

Cough and cold formulas

While there are a myriad of different over-the-counter cold and flu formulas, it’s important to remember that they don’t cure a cold or flu. They merely help manage the symptoms. Be careful with medications and read the labels as many contain decongestants (pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine), cough suppressants (dextromethorphan), antihistamines (chlorpheniramine, doxylamine) and pain relievers so make sure that you don’t take these formulas in conjunction with other medications causing you to ingest more than the recommended dose for any one ingredient. Also make sure that the product does not contain any ingredient that may interact with any prescription medication you take or adversely affect any medical condition (like high blood pressure, glaucoma, depression, prostate enlargement, etc.) you may have. If you’re unsure about which medications to take, ask your pharmacist.

Throat lozenges

Some ingredients found in lozenges, such as herbs, honey, or eucalyptus, have long been used to soothe sore throats or coughs throughout history. Like other cold and flu treatments, throat lozenges can offer temporary relief, but they’re not a cure.

Tissues/hand sanitizers

Runny nose, sneezing and coughing are common cold and flu symptoms as well as the main ways in which germs are spread. Always cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues and teach kids to do the same. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately and wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after sneezing or blowing your nose. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also work if you can’t wash right away.

Nasal sprays

Nasal congestion is one of the most common cold and flu symptoms. Saline nasal sprays and rinses can be used safely to loosen mucus and soothe nasal passages. There are also decongestant nasal sprays that shrink nasal passages temporarily but if used more frequently or longer than recommended, they can actually make congestion worse.

Cool, clear water

Water and other clear liquids help restore fluids lost as a result of a fever and help keep mucus secretions flowing so keep drinking! Aim for eight to nine eight-ounce glasses of water each day.

While the items in your cold and flu survival kit are meant to help you manage the symptoms of a cold or flu, the best thing you can do is listen to your body and give it the rest it needs to get well. n

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. For helpful information, visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm.