Cough and cold medicines are very popular. They're used to relieve a cough and provide relief from symptoms of common colds, such as sore throat, chills, fever, and headache. But should you use non-drowsy cough medicine? Or is there another option that's better for your health? We'll discuss the pros and cons of using non-drowsy cold medicine and other treatments.
What is a cold?
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract typically caused by a type of rhinovirus, although many viruses are known to cause colds. (1) It can be accompanied by fever, sore throat, cough, and headache. The symptoms usually last five to seven days but may persist for up to three weeks in children or adults with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In most cases, there are no serious problems associated with the illness. However, in certain circumstances, it may also lead to pneumonia and worsening COPD due to restricted airways. Throughout history, people have tried many remedies for the common cold without great success, although treatments have reduced the symptoms.
What is a cough?
Coughs are a sudden, usually repetitive reflex that clears the throat of mucus or other material. A cough is your body's way of getting rid of these irritants and clearing your airways. Coughing prevents you from choking and helps to clear your throat (and sometimes even your nasal passages) of mucus and other fluids. (2)
A cough is not an illness in itself - it is a symptom of a problem within your body. There are many different causes of a cough, ranging from simple colds to more serious conditions like asthma and bronchitis. (3) Although not usually dangerous on their own, persistent or recurring coughs may be symptoms of underlying health conditions that need further investigation by your doctor.
How do non-drowsy cold medicines work?
Non-drowsy cold medicines are medications that can relieve many of the symptoms of a cold or flu, such as fever, aches and pains, headache, and sore throat. These preparations may also help clear your nasal passages by thinning out mucus. Unlike cold medicines that make you sleepy (which contain antihistamines), non-drowsy cold medicines do not usually cause drowsiness.
Non-drowsy colds and flu medicines may contain one or more of the following ingredients: analgesics (pain relievers), decongestants, antihistamines, and/or expectorants. Some non-drowsy cold remedies also include an anti-inflammatory ingredient, such as ibuprofen.
Analgesics are medications that relieve pain. Non-prescription analgesics include ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol/acetaminophen.
Decongestants are ingredients that can help to clear a stuffy nose and sinuses by shrinking blood vessels in the nose. (4)
Antihistamines block a chemical known as histamine, which is responsible for some of the symptoms of allergies and infections. They work by preventing histamines from getting to their target cells in the nose or lungs. (5)
Expectorants help you cough up mucus thinned out by other ingredients in your cold medicine. This helps you get rid of phlegm and mucus from your airways. (6)
What are the benefits of non-drowsy cold medicines?
Non-drowsy cold medicines can help relieve your symptoms, such as a blocked nose, headache, fever, aches, and pains. They may also help you clear mucus from your airways, relieving nasal congestion. This can be useful if you have a cold or flu.
What are the benefits of non-drowsy cough medicines?
Non-drowsy cough medicines can help relieve dry, irritating, and persistent coughs. These may be caused by several conditions, including the common cold and allergies such as hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis).
Non-drowsy OTC cough medications will not make you sleepy.
What are the side effects of non-drowsy cough and cold medicines?
Medicines that contain an antihistamine can cause some drowsiness. (7) However, non-drowsy cough and cold medications do not usually make you sleepy. They may still contain other active ingredients that can cause side effects. If your cold or cough is causing you to feel unwell, your doctor may recommend taking some acetaminophen and a decongestant and expectorant.
Non-drowsy cold medicines can also cause side effects when taken in certain ways, such as when combined with other medications. Read the information leaflet in the medicine packet carefully to check for interactions between your current medicines and non-drowsy cold medicines.
In certain people, non-drowsy cold medicines may also cause increased blood pressure or heart rate, nausea, vomiting, or drowsiness. (8) Consult your doctor if you have a fever, longer-lasting illness, or symptoms that don't improve after taking non-prescription medicines.
However, for most people, the biggest issue with non-drowsy cough and cold medicines might be that they don't improve your health - they simply remove the symptoms of illness. Although your quality of life may improve when taking such medicines (e.g., you cough less with a cough suppressant), the underlying condition remains, and it is left to your immune system to fight it.
Taking care of your immune system
Looking after your immune system is the best way to prevent illness and get well when feeling under the weather. Don't wait until you are feeling ill. Instead, maintain a strong immune system all year round by following these tips:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep (especially during flu season in fall/winter)
- Take supplements to boost your vitamin and nutrient intake
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking or secondhand smoke, which are both bad for your respiratory and immune systems
If you are feeling sick, try to rest as much as possible. Keep warm with blankets and hot drinks. Try to only eat when you have an appetite. And if you need medication, take it as directed on the label or doctor's advice - but try to keep your body in great condition all year round with the help of supplements.
Supplements to help prevent colds and coughs
Not all multivitamins and supplements are the same. Still, the FDA provides a recommended daily value for the level of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need to keep your body functioning well. (9)
Immune Super Boost contains a blend of phytonutrients, including Echinacea and Elderberry, to help your immune system combat illness. Echinacea has been used to treat illnesses, including respiratory infections and common cold symptoms. It stimulates the immune system and may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (10) Elderberry certainly does have antioxidant properties as it contains a high concentration of vitamin C. (11)
Bioactive Multi provides a complete spectrum of ultra-absorbable, essential vitamins and minerals, plus phytonutrients and antioxidants, to ensure a daily nutrient foundation for optimal health.
Being full of the right ingredients isn't always a recipe for success, but the next-generation MICROGEL™ delivery system ensures your body gets the maximum benefit from each supplement.
Each dose is supplied in a gel pack. When a multivitamin is a tablet or capsule, your body can have a hard time absorbing the nutrients properly. However, the nutrients in MICROGEL™ are pre-solubilized, making them easy for your body to absorb.
One gel pack of Bioactive Multi contains more nutrients than you'd absorb from five vitamin pills.
Whichever supplement you choose, you can take it straight from the pack or mix it with water or smoothies to create your own health-boosting drink.
For those who follow a plant-based diet, Healthycell Vegan Essentials provides the same benefits in a totally vegan product.
Bioactive Multi and Vegan Essentials give you the baseline for living a healthy life and keeping your immune system functioning as it should. At the same time, Immune Super Boost enhances the performance of your immune systems, making it easier for your body to handle the coughs and colds that come along.
Are non-drowsy cough and cold medicines the right choice?
Non-drowsy cough and cold medicines have a lot of pros - they relieve your symptoms, don't cause you to fall asleep, and help in clearing your airways.
However, non-drowsy cold medicines don't actually improve your health - they merely mask the symptoms of illness. Cough treatments may contain ingredients that could interact negatively with other medications you're taking, and non-drowsy cold medicines may cause side effects such as headache, nausea, vomiting, or drowsiness.
The best way to prevent illness is to maintain a healthy lifestyle - eat healthily, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, and use supplements that support the optimal functioning of your immune system. If your cold symptoms don't improve after 2 days or you have a high fever, it may be necessary to consult your doctor for an assessment.