Cold meds may not help if you become sick

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – They’re lurking all around your home, office, or school this very moment… viruses and bacteria that could make you sick. And some years, no matter how hard you try… you wake up to find they got ya.

One of the most common mistakes people make during cold and flu season is taking the wrong medications — they either don’t address symptoms or can even make them worse.

“Cold medicines aren’t going to shorten the duration of the illness. The cold medicines are really questionable whether they actually help at all. Some people might benefit from decongestants for a few days, but studies are not convincing on that,” said Dr. Daniel Skiest, chief of infectious diseases at Baystate Medical Center.

The same can be said for antihistamines; they may provide some relief by drying out a runny nose or eyes, but it’s not a sure fix. Plus both medicines have some side effects — decongestants can raise your blood pressure, and antihistamines can make you tired. Sometimes the risks outweigh the potential benefits — and the only real solution is waiting it out with the basics.

“Rest, a lot of fluids, Tylenol as needed. That’s pretty much it. Hand washing and covering your mouth or coughing into your shoulder so you don’t spread it to others around you,” Dr. Skiest added.

You may have heard about the flu vaccine being less effective this year, but doctors insist it does still offer protection. Flu activity won’t begin winding down until at least the end of February, so there’s still plenty of time this season to get the vaccine to protect you and your family.

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