Flu season is upon us. To help treat illness, many people go to the medicine aisle of their local supermarket or their local drug store. With so many options, it can get disorientating. Below, are some guidelines to keep in mind while looking for treatments.

For stuffy noses, look for decongestants. Decongestants treat stuffy nose by shrinking the swollen nasal passages that cause congestion. These can come either in pill, drop, or spray form. Keep in mind that these products are not meant for use for more than three days. For those who have heart issues, speak with your doctor before using. Decongestants can mix poorly with certain heart medications. Saline (salt water) nose sprays or rinses can help break down mucus, too.

For head or body aches, look for pain relievers that contain naproxen, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. If you are taking other medicines for symptom treatment, look them over first before trying any of these. Many cold and flu medicines have these ingredients in their formulas already. These pain relievers also have use for combating fevers.

For coughs, there are two kinds of treatments: expectorants and suppressants. Expectorants break down mucus, thus helping the body cough it up easier. Suppressants stifle coughs. The type that’s best for you can vary based on other symptoms. Consulting a doctor or pharmacist can help bring more clarity on the matter. Lozenges can also help reduce the urge to cough as well as treat sore throats.

Remember, don’t give over-the-counter medicine to children under the age of 4. Don’t give them to children 4-6 either without a doctor’s recommendation. Check the bottles to make sure you are giving yourself the right dose. With proper care, most symptoms should start to go away in 7-10 days. If they have not, a checkup at the doctor’s may be warranted.

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