Five reasons your cold medicine isn’t helping

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The cold and flu season is well upon us, but what you may not know is that cold medications can have harmful effects on your health.

Recent concerns this month for acetaminophen overdose effect on the liver have left the FDA asking doctors not to prescribe combination medications that contain over 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per pill. Previously, the amount was regulated as 500 milligrams per pill, and the most recent request by the FDA only applies to prescription medication.

While over-the-counter acetaminophen products are expected to be addressed by the FDA at a later date, this cold and flu season keep yourself healthy and safe with the following tips:

1. It’s important not to exceed the maximum dosage of over-the-counter medications, especially when taking two medications within a six hour period. Overdoses of amounts over 650 milligrams every six hours, more than four times in a 24 hour period, have been found to be very serious and are linked to liver failure, rashes and even death.

2. Because many illnesses are viral, it’s best to see a doctor if cold-like symptoms without fever persist for over a week. Until then, wait it out. Antibiotics won’t do anything to cure a cold virus, so it’s best to save time and money. Somewhere in that magical time of 7-10 days if symptoms persist or get worse, sinus infection can occur. Therefore, most doctors will prescribe an antibiotic such as amoxicillin for 10 consecutive days.

3. If prescribed an antibiotic, follow the directions on the label and don’t miss any doses. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in world health. Even missing one or two pills leave bacteria alive and “resistant” to future treatment according to the American College of Physicians. The only sure-way to tell if symptoms are from a bacterial strain is to run a throat culture test. If your doctor doesn’t offer you a throat culture test for bacterial infection, which includes strep, feel confident in asking for one. If left untreated, strep has the potential to damage your heart.

4. Air quality in Utah can change rapidly with the weather and may become a serious health risk. You may be suffering added symptoms that come with it. Within days, air quality ratings can turn from green to yellow to red. Being aware of current air quality conditions can help assess your symptoms.

Because poor air quality conditions can also combine with chronic symptoms, as well as seasonal allergies and cold symptoms, poor air quality is relatable to smoking in the sense that it can create or even intensify existing respiratory problems. Being aware of other contributing factors, such as current air quality, can help pin down the best course of action for these and other respiratory problems.

5.  A cold, flu and strep can be diagnosed within the community at the same time. That’s why it’s important to stay home when you first have symptoms in order to prevent viruses from spreading and be able to go back to normal routine more quickly. Naturally, in order to give any medication a chance to work, the body requires adequate rest, hydration and nutrition. These things are important but more often than not when we are sick, we get less sleep, water and good food than we need. Each person knows what rest, water and nutrition he or she usually gets in an average day. During cold and flu season take extra care to up these amounts. In the end, sometimes a little TLC is truly the best medicine.