Cold Comfort - From Our Pharmacist - Raley’s Family of Fine Stores

From Our Pharmacist:  Cold Comfort

Questions answered by Allen Jantz, Pharmacist, Raley's Family of Fine Stores. A native of Kansas, Allen moved to Sacramento in 1976 and has enjoyed a 27-year (and counting!) career with Raley's. He is the Pharmacy Manager of our Carmichael store. It probably comes as no surprise to discover that colds and flu are by far the most common illnesses in the world. Unfortunately, there are no cures yet, so the only alternatives are prevention and, if that fails, treatment of symptoms.

Q: What can I do to help avoid getting a cold or flu?

A: Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Keep your immune system strong by getting plenty of rest, eating healthfully and drinking plenty of fluids. Vitamin supplementation may also be advisable. Getting a flu vaccination is another good idea. Last but not least, don't smoke, as smokers get more and longer-lasting colds than nonsmokers.

Q: Once I have a cold or flu, is there anything I can do to shorten the length or reduce the severity of symptoms?

A: Research has shown that zinc lozenges administered every two to three hours can reduce symptoms, especially if started within 24 hours of onset. There also are some prescription antiviral medications that are marginally effective if taken within 24 to 48 hours of the first symptoms.

Q: What's the best medicine for a cold or flu?

A: There is no one "best" medicine. Because of the myriad products, the differences in symptoms from person to person and health considerations such as high blood pressure, it's very important to ask your Raley's, Bel Air or Nob Hill Foods Pharmacist for a recommendation. We're here to help.

Q: If I have high blood pressure, should I take a decongestant such as Sudafed?

A: You may need to avoid decongestants if you have high blood pressure or heart problems. They can raise blood pressure and increase heart rate. Generally, if your blood pressure is well controlled with medication, you should be able to take decongestants for a short period of time if you monitor your blood pressure and heart rate. However, always consult your doctor first.

Q: If I can't take decongestants, what can I use?

A: You may consider decongestant nasal sprays but remember, they should not be used more than two or three days in a row. Saline nasal sprays are another option. They work more slowly but have the advantage of being able to be used indefinitely. Hot liquids such as teas can help open the nasal passages. Antihistamines also may be helpful if you have a runny nose or postnasal drip, but they may worsen some conditions. Again, please consult your Pharmacist.

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