Seeking relief from cold, flu symptoms

NEW YORK — Cold and flu season is hitting hard this year and trying to find some relief may be a challenge, especially when it comes to finding the right medicine to treat your symptoms.

Doctor J.D. Zipkin at Go Health Urgent Care in New York City recommends starting with a base of ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and pains, often found in multi-symptom over the counter cold remedies.

“They have a good mix of things and they just do a shotgun approach to treat a lot of symptoms at once,” he said.

The most effective nasal decongestants for anyone except children and older adults contain pseudoephedrine. Those will be found behind the counter.

“Steroid-based nasal sprays can loosen congestion. Sinus rinses like neti pots and saline sprays may also help,” added Dr. Zipkin.

Cough suppressants may lessen a nagging dry cough, but you have to use them wisely.

“One of the biggest mistakes I see are patients who take the combination cough suppressants and expectorants trying to turn off their cough and help it along at the same time. It doesn’t really work.”

When it comes to herbal remedies and vitamin c, they may shorten symptoms slightly but aren’t recommended.

Doctors say children, pregnant or nursing women and those with high blood pressure should be extra careful when shopping for cold and cough medicine.

Before starting any medication, consult your doctor and be sure to read up about possible interactions and side effects.