Saving on Over-the-Counter Cold Remedies

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

The last thing you want to do when you or someone in your household comes down with a cold is to trudge to a drugstore to purchase over-the-counter cold remedies. It’s better to keep an array of remedies on hand so when sickness strikes, you have something to ease the patient’s symptoms. While they won’t cure the cold, they may serve to lessen discomfort and inconvenience while it runs its course.

Of course you can’t keep the whole drugstore in your medicine cabinet. Choosing a well-considered assortment of cold remedies to keep in stock is wise course of action. Rather than purchasing products that combat multiple symptoms, it’s best to get single-symptom remedies you can take to fight off specific symptoms. For instance, you might need something for a sore throat and a runny nose one day and two days later you may be dealing with congestion and a cough. It’s best to treat only the symptoms from which you’re suffering at any given time. Taking something for more symptoms than you have means you’re taking unnecessary medication, which is unhealthy and wasteful.

Here’s a list of the general categories of cold remedies to keep in your medicine cabinet:

NOTE: It is vital that you check with your doctor about which ingredients to look for – and which to avoid – in products in each category to take into account your personal health profile.

If you don’t have any particular health concerns, talk to the pharmacist for recommendations. There are store-brand versions of most medications, so once you know what the active ingredients are, you can usually find the medicine you need for much less money.

  • Analgesic – This combats pain, like headache, sore throat or body aches. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or even aspirin will do the trick. These medications can also lower fever.
  • Cough remedy – A cough suppressant helps relieve the urge to cough (though if it’s “productive” and helping you to expel excess mucus from your lungs, coughing itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Take a cough remedy when coughing is excessive.
  • Expectorant – An expectorant aids in “loosening” the mucous which may cause coughing, making it easier to expel. Often cough remedies include an expectorant, but you may not always need these products together. Get an separate expectorant for the treatment of an unproductive cough.
  • Decongestant – These relieve the swelling (congestion) of nasal passages caused by a cold, opening up your airway, thus making it easier to breathe through your nose.
  • Antihistamine – When you have a cold (or an allergy) your nose releases chemicals called, “histamines,” which make your nose itchy and runny and causes sneezing. As the name implies, an antihistamine combats those chemicals, thereby relieving the symptoms they cause.

Once a year, take inventory of what cold remedies you have on hand. Check their expiration dates. Most expired cold remedies lose some of their effectiveness after the expiration date has passed, so you’ll want to replace them with fresh medications. Once you know what you have on hand, fill in your symptom-battling arsenal so you’re prepared to treat any symptoms that attack. Stocking up in advance enables you to shop at your leisure, rather than when you’re anxious to get home to the patient. Purchasing them before they’re actually needed will provide time to research products, price-shop  and find coupons, all of which will make buying these pricey medications more affordable.

Colds happen. When illness strikes, being prepared with what you need to relieve symptoms can help you – and your wallet – feel healthier.

How do you save on over-the-counter cold remedies?

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