What not to do in case of a cold? A pharmacist explains the 10 most common mistakes

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A stuffy nose, a sore throat and a high temperature are familiar symptoms of a cold to many. From time to time we ourselves feel and experience that one of our loved ones has caught a cold. The winter season, rapid changes in weather and the return of children to school after the holidays have contributed to the increased spread of various viruses. It often seems that we know what to do to reduce the symptoms, but is it really so? What are the most common mistakes when treating a cold, and what not to do, explains Zane Melberga, a pharmacist at “Euroaptiekas”.

“No matter how hard we try to stay healthy, we often encounter various cold symptoms. Especially at this time when the virus is spreading faster and our immunity is weaker. When catching a cold, one of the mistakes is self-diagnosis, when we look for and diagnose various diseases or treat only the symptoms that bother us the most, without paying attention to the general state of the body. It is also common to think in two extremes – either the cold will go away “by itself” or you should resort to all available preparations. Even on the first day of a cold, we often make mistakes, trying to immediately reduce the symptoms and after previous experiences of illness, using existing remedies, without even reading the instructions for use and not paying attention to the active substances in the composition,” says Zane Melberga, pharmacist of “Euroaptiekas”.

What are the most common mistakes when treating a cold?

  1. Drinking hot drinks without knowing their ingredients

Usually, when we feel the first symptoms of a cold, we remember the hot drinks available in the home medicine cabinet or pharmacy, which we drink without even looking at the suitability of the active substance in the composition for the treatment of symptoms, hoping to quickly relieve the symptoms of a cold. However, not being sure about the composition of a hot drink is one of the biggest mistakes – there are hot drinks that contain the active ingredient paracetamol, which are designed to reduce the temperature, and thus we can get a deceptive feeling that the cold symptoms have ended and the feeling has improved significantly. Before making a hot drink in a cup, you must read the instructions for use to be sure that you are using it to treat the appropriate symptoms.

Hot drinks are recommended to choose those whose composition is plant-based, for example, with lime blossom or raspberry and blackcurrant leaf extract, because they will not contain an active substance that lowers the temperature when there is none. If, however, the temperature exceeds 37.8°C, then we can choose such hot drinks that contain the active substance paracetamol, which lowers the temperature. Hot drinks are also recommended three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening, it is not necessary to drink them every 3 or 4 hours. Care should be taken to ensure that different hot drinks do not contain the same active substance. Children from the age of 12 can choose the same drinks as adults, but children from the age of 6 are specially designed for hot drinks.

  1. Simultaneous use of ibuprofen and paracetamol

Often, when we feel bad, we look for various solutions to quickly relieve a cold, but we must remember that it is not allowed and there is no need to use preparations containing ibuprofen and paracetamol at the same time. They are medicines of the same group. Ibuprofen helps with pain, fever and inflammation, while paracetamol helps with pain and fever. Here, as a solution, you should choose the active substance that helps better, but not both together, so as not to take a double dose. If it doesn’t get better, you can use the preparation again after 4 hours.

  1. Long-term use of nasal sprays

One of the most common symptoms of a cold is a stuffy nose, which we often try to solve with various nasal sprays. They usually contain the active substance xylometazoline or oxymetazoline, the main task of which is to narrow blood vessels, reduce swelling. Before choosing to use nasal sprays, it is recommended to consult a pharmacist about the most suitable one that will help relieve symptoms. For example, to moisturize the mucous membrane of the nose, you should use moisturizing agents containing hyaluronic acid, sea buckthorn oil or olive oil, while for a stuffy nose it is recommended to use aerosols containing the active substance xylometazoline, it will reduce swelling and narrow the blood vessels of the nose. Also, you should not get carried away with it often use, so that the nasal mucosa does not dry out and the body does not get used to it, use them for no longer than 2 weeks according to the instructions for use.

  1. Too short duration of action for sore throat preparations

Neck pain is hard to bear for many people and makes everyday life difficult – eating, talking, so they tend to use various remedies to relieve the symptoms faster. The home first aid kit is often rich with various special remedies for throat pain – tablets, aerosols, rinses, etc., but it is important to remember about the correct use of preparations. The active substance of the preparation must be allowed to work for at least 20 minutes, nothing

should not be drunk on top, even if the taste of the preparation is not pleasant. Usually, when you wake up in the morning, you have to wake up, have breakfast, then brush your teeth and finally follow the use of preparations to relieve throat pain. Also, make sure that different preparations do not contain the same active substance and that too high a dose is not taken.

  1. Folk medicine against cold symptoms

When we feel the first symptoms of a cold, we often resort to folk medicine, most often – onions and garlic. For example, in case of inflammation, garlic or onion infusion is used, or when we feel a runny nose that prevents us from breathing freely, we put garlic in the stuffy nose. However, it should be remembered that this will only irritate it more and will not reduce the symptoms faster. Garlic or onion can be used as a folk medicine, for example, by placing it at the baby’s bedside.

  1. Antibiotics as first line

Taking antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription is one of the mistakes that can make you feel worse and prolong your illness, because antibiotics fight bacteria, but a cold is caused by a virus. Unreasonable use of antibiotics is also a mistake, because in this way bacteria are tricked, making them insensitive to antibiotics, or creating greater body resistance. Bacterial resistance is also promoted by the fact that when we feel the symptoms have subsided, we stop using antibiotics, reducing the duration of their use prescribed by the doctor. . Even with the reduction of symptoms, they must be used for the entire specified period, because if the inflammation is not completely cured, there is a risk that it will go into the chronic phase. Consult a doctor about the use of antibiotics, while the simultaneous use of antibiotics with other medications and the need for probiotics can be discussed with the pharmacist. Antibiotics left over and preparations with an expired expiration date can be returned to “Euroaptieka” pharmacies.

  1. Going out when feeling bad

We often hear that fresh air is good, so we go for walks even when we have a cold. However, when we have a high temperature, weakness, dizziness, it is better to stay at home. Don’t torture your body, let it rest and regenerate. Remember that it is always possible and even desirable to ventilate the room instead.

  1. Going to the sauna, bath or shower

Similar to going for a walk, before going to the sauna, bath or shower, you have to think about whether it is necessary at a time when the body has other tasks. At that moment, the side of the nose is heated, which can further promote the development of inflammation. If you have a fever, a hot shower, bath or sauna can, for example, make breathing difficult or raise your body temperature.

  1. Insufficient rest and sleep

The often heard saying that sleep heals is not false. If we continue to work when we have cold symptoms, do our usual things and ignore the symptoms, we prevent the body from resting and prolong the recovery period. The “Euroaptiekas” pharmacist advises to rest for one or two days, so that on the third day you can return to everyday life already feeling much better. Getting enough sleep is key to health.

  1. Not going to the doctor when needed

Cold symptoms are a familiar feeling, so we often tend to trust that it will get better soon. Sometimes treatment by observing rest, drinking teas and hot drinks does not help and the symptoms only get worse – the cough becomes stronger, breathing is difficult, the temperature does not fall and is high. This is the moment when the disease has already progressed and when it is absolutely necessary to contact the family doctor to talk about the symptoms and agree on the course of treatment. Young children should be carefully monitored for the development of their symptoms, as the body can quickly become dehydrated through diarrhea or vomiting. The body’s abilities must be carefully evaluated, whether it will be able to cope on its own.

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