Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Cold of our Discontent

I have a cold, that nasty disease caused by a rhinovirus.  It began surprisingly slowly, as if it couldn't make up it's mind, or perhaps my immune system was that fast in attacking it.  I felt its whisper on Sunday evening.  I thought briefly of gargling with warm salt water which can block a sore throat if done early enough.  But I wasn't feeling the cold's whisper in my throat.  It was just a feeling I had.

Sure enough, I woke up yesterday with nasal congestion, sinus pain, and an extra dry throat that encouraged coughs.  I attacked it with 1000 mg. of vitamin C at breakfast, and every hour using saline nasal spray to clear out my nasal passages.  It had been so long since I'd had a cold that everything I had in my medicine cabinet to fight one was over a year past the expiration date, even the Halls lozenges.  Nothing like feeling like being left in the lurch by yourself.

In the afternoon, I attended a meeting in an unfamiliar section of the city, actually a south suburb.  Miraculously, my nose barely dripped during the meeting, and the sneeze and cough were taking a snooze.  I felt pretty good.  As soon as I walked out of the office building, the monster stirred and woke to hit me in the sinuses with a Thor hammer.  On my way to the bus stop, I spotted a Walgreens.  I don't think I've ever been so happy to see that drugstore.

This Walgreens' interior looked more spacious than my regular Walgreens, but I had no problems finding the cold and flu products.  The section marked "Cold & Flu" was nearly decimated, a testimony to how hard the flu has hit this year.  I spent some time reading labels.  It's extremely important if you take other medications, prescription or not, to have some knowledge of drug interactions.  Two over-the-counter medications could interact in an unfriendly manner and send you to the hospital. 

For me, it's my prescriptions that I'm concerned with interacting with cold medication.  I know that I cannot take Dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant, because it can interact with one of my meds.  Every product I picked up had Dextromethorphan in it.  One didn't and I thought, "Aha!  Finally;" but then I noticed that the pain reliever was aspirin, an NSAID which I cannot take.  I read maybe 10 or 12 labels, despairing that there was nothing there I could buy for my cold. 

Then I noticed a section of natural remedies such as Zicam and ColdEze.  To the left of that section, I found another section of cold meds.  This time I found what I was looking for -- no Dextromethorphan or NSAIDs in the cold med.  I bought two packages, three bags of Halls lozenges and a large box of Puffs.

It would have been so easy for me to run into the drugstore, grab the first cold medication that caught my eye without checking the label.  Really bad idea.  I've checked out the medications that I take regularly, either asking my doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions, or checking one of several resources online that will check for adverse interactions, such as Drugs.com, or at the CVS or Walgreens websites.  Some hospitals also have drug interaction checkers at their websites. 

Know what you are putting into your body!  Educate yourself.  Your body is your first home and deserves your best care.  Anything you ingest, including food, affects your body or can interact with other things you've ingested. 

Take care.

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