Nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants and cough expectorants are some of the typical medications for the common cold, according to Healthline. These over-the-counter medications help alleviate the symptoms of colds.
Nasal decongestants help relieve a stuffy nose by contracting the blood vessels in the nose’s lining, explains Healthline. Air passes through the nose easily once the swollen tissue becomes smaller. Nasal decongestants are available as liquid drops, nasal sprays and pills. Possible side effects include dizziness, heart palpitations, sleeping trouble and temporary nervousness.
Antihistamines help reduce cold symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge and watery eyes, states Healthline. They work by blocking histamine, which is an inflammatory mediator that causes several cold symptoms. Cough suppressants provide temporary relief by obstructing the brain’s cough reflex, whereas cough expectorants allow people to expel mucus more easily by loosening the fluid.
The common cold does not have a cure, and taking medications does not prevent or shorten colds, notes Healthline. Individuals should consult a doctor if the medications do not relieve symptoms, as they may be suffering the flu or another condition. Children above 14 years of age and adults can take OTC drugs for relief; however, children below 6 years of age should not take any cough or cold drugs, as the medicines may lead to severe side effects and also pose a risk of dangerous overdose.