Friday, December 20, 2013

Safety Tips for Cold Medicine

The symptoms of a common cold can be pesky at best, and serious in some instances. However, while you may want to offer your senior medication to help them feel better as they fight off a cold, home care professionals remind you that some over the counter cold medicine may interact negatively with prescription drugs that your elderly loved one is taking.

How to proceed

Prior to offering your elderly loved one any sort of medication, even a decongestant, eldercare professionals encourage you to seek guidance from a doctor. This person can also indicate whether mixing certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications would cause a health problem.

You can also consult with a pharmacist about how any prescription drugs that the elderly person takes may interact with common cold medicines. Make sure that you have a complete list of the drugs your senior is currently taking, including dosage, as you ask the pharmacist for advice. 

The facts about cold medicine

A decongestant can prove useful if your elderly loved one is dealing with nasal or sinus problems. However, understand that decongestants can increase heart rate, and are known to cause anxiety and insomnia in some people. For this reason, it is important to ask a doctor if your senior is able to take these medications safely before issuing them. As long as the person’s blood pressure is controlled using medication, they are probably fine to take these kinds of medications. However, it is always smart to verify just in case. If your senior has high blood pressure that is not yet under control, check with a doctor first for their recommendation about how to proceed.

Decongestants can safely be taken with antihistamines, though it is important not to overdo the recommended dosage instructions. Keep in mind that over-the-counter antihistamines that contain diphenhydramine may make the user drowsy. Do not give your elderly loved one this kind of medication if they need to drive.

Using nasal decongestants effectively

Nasal decongestants open up breathing passages, however when a person uses them for more than three days in a row they may suffer a “rebound” effect. As a result, they can end up more congested than they were to begin with. For this reason, senior health experts recommend using nasal decongestants for less than three days at a time. If symptoms persist afterward, it is time to seek help from a medical professional. Another useful option is a saline spray, which can loosen mucus without relying on medication. Though they work slower than other options, they also do not cause rebound effects.

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