Very often cold symptoms
may be very similar to allergy symptoms. In such cases it is very
difficult to choose the right medication.
Viruses cause colds
and allergens such as pollen and dust mites trigger allergies, but
they share similar symptoms.
Because of such confusion
great many ranges of over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants,
and preparations combining the two are available to relieve the
discomfort of allergies or the common cold. Some preparations have
other active ingredients, such as cough suppressants and expectorants.
Choosing the right
"In general, antihistamines
work better for allergies while decongestants are more effective
for colds," advises Richard Johnson, M.D., family medicine
physician at UCLA Medical Group-Pacific Palisades.
help stop itchy eyes, dry nasal secretions and reduce sneezing,
but common side effects often include drowsiness and dizziness,
and may cause urinary retention in men, particularly in the elderly.
The latest prescription
allergy medications which have much fewer side effects are now available
decongestions can relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, but
must be used sparingly or else dependence can develop, resulting
in severe nasal congestion when the sprays are stopped.
Decongestants for colds
relieve sinus congestion and nose stuffiness by constricting the
nose's blood vessels, thereby reducing mucous production. In some
people, oral decongestants can cause insomnia, nervousness, rapid
heartbeats and increased blood pressure.
phenylpropanolamine (PPA) was a common decongestant in many preparations.
However, in response to research revealing that PPA may increase
the incidence of stroke, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
has ordered drug manufacturers to remove it from their formulations.
Many companies have already complied with the FDA order, but it
is wise to double check your medication's ingredient list to make
sure," Dr. Johnson suggests.