Clinic Health Beat - Cold Medicine Cabinet

Clinic Health Beat

Health clinic signMy Cold Medicine Cabinet

  • Learn to read labels and follow directions.
  • Take the minimum amount of medicines needed for your symptoms.
  • Many over the counter combinations have more than you need.
  • Ask the pharmacist if you have questions or
  • Call the clinic for advice at (541) 463-5665

Over the Counter Medicines

Used for symptom relief in upper respiratory illnesses

Type Of MedicineActive IngredientWhen To TakeWhen Not To Take
Cough suppressant


Cold, cough

Symptoms of pneumonia

Expectorant (mucous thinner)


Cold, cough

Symptoms of pneumonia

Oral Decongestant


Cold, nasal congestion

High blood pressure



Runny nose, sneezing; diphenhydramine also helps you sleep

Do not take diphenhydramine and drive

Nasal decongestant


Cold, nasal congestion, sinusitis symptoms

Do not use for more than 3 days at a time

Analgesic (pain reliever)


Headaches, muscle aches, sore throat

Do NOT give aspirin to children and teenagers

Fever reducers


Fever higher than 101 F

Do NOT give aspirin to children and teenagers

A low grade (<100.5 f) may actually help your immune system fight the infection—only treat if needed for comfort; use caution with  acetaminophen if active liver disease

Nasal saline

Salt water

Nasal congestion ; sinusitis symptoms

Illnesses and Symptoms

IllnessSymptomsDo I Need To Be Seen In The Clinic?Do I Need Antibiotics?What Can I Do To Feel Better?

Common cold

Cough, low grade fever,
mild sore throat, runny or stuffed up nose

Usually not: but if you aren't better in 5-7 days, maybe so.

No. The cold is caused by a virus.

Cough suppressants; fever reducers/analgesics; decongestants-oral or nasal; rest; fluids; saline nasal spray or irrigation

Bronchitis (chest cold)

Persistent cough, usually with or after a cold

Not usually, unless you have other symptoms like difficulty breathing or have a cough that comes in spasms

No. Also caused by a virus, even if it lasts longer than a week.

Cough suppressants; fluids; humidifier; honey and lemon

Influenza (flu)

Fever, muscle aches, sore throat, high fever (>100.5 F), cough

Usually not; unless you are elderly, have other significant health problems

No, influenza is caused by a virus.

Cough suppressants; fever reducers/ analgesics; rest and fluids; STAY HOME; no one else wants to catch this from you


Headache; pain in front of face or teeth; nasal  congestion

Usually not. Unless you have a high fever or severe pain.

Usually not. You need to clear the sinus congestion

Decongestants-either oral or nasal; salt water nasal spray/irrigation; fluids; analgesics

Strep throat

Sore throat, fever,
NO cough, headache, rash

Yes, we need to examine you and do a quick test to determine if you really have strep throat

Yes, if your strep test is positive; NO if it is a viral sore throat

Throat lozenges; honey and lemon; analgesics


Cough, fever, shortness of breath, shaking chills



Discuss with your provider