We are still in that miserable cough and cold season, and the allergy season will be here before we know it! Fortunately, the number of actual influenza cases (“the Flu”) have started to decrease, and the worst of the flu season appears to be over according to the CDC.
If you have symptoms of the common cold, flu, or allergies, I encourage you to talk to your pharmacist to help you choose the best over-the-counter (OTC) medication to help alleviate your symptoms. As the medication experts, pharmacists are trained in prescription medications, OTC medications, dietary and herbal supplements. As a pharmacist, I can help you determine whether you are suffering from a cold, flu, or allergies and select products that address your individual needs, or recommend you to see your physician if your symptoms warrant.
Here are a few suggestions for ensuring medication safety when choosing OTC medications:
- Discuss the symptoms you are trying to treat, and the duration of those symptoms with your pharmacist.
- Discuss with your pharmacist other medications you take and what other medical conditions you may have before taking OTC medications.
- Provide the age and weight of the patient to the pharmacist. This is especially important if you are caring for a child or elderly family member, as formulations and appropriate dose often vary based on weight.
- Read product labeling, take the medication exactly as directed, ask about possible side-effects, and ask your pharmacist what should be avoided while taking the medication.
- Watch for duplicate ingredients. If you are taking or giving more than one OTC product, check the active ingredient(s) used in each medication to make sure you are not using more than one product with the same ingredient.
- Do not use a kitchen spoon to measure liquid medications. Use a proper medication administration aid such as a dropper, oral syringe or spoon. Your pharmacist should sell this in the pharmacy.
- Do not give medications in the dark and do not administer medications to anyone who is not fully awake.
- Use good hygiene to help prevent the spread of contagious illnesses. Cover the mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, try to avoid touching the face, wash hands frequently, and be sure to wash any dosing syringe or spoon properly.
- Remember, most OTC medications are for temporary relief of minor symptoms. Contact your pharmacist or health care provider if your condition persists or gets worse.
I encourage patients to fill all of their prescriptions with one pharmacy, get to know the pharmacist on a first name basis, discuss your medications with your pharmacist, and carry an up-to-date medication list to share with your physicians.
Best In Health,
Paul Hueseman, PharmD
301 S. Kirkwood Rd.
Kirkwood, MO 63122