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View Full Version : Which OTC cold medicine is best for a runny nose?


Zsofia
12-12-2008, 01:06 PM
The selections really confuse me now, what with the stuff I can or can't make meth with and everything. Went to the doc on Monday with a sinus infection, but I kind of think maybe it's been joined by a opportunistic little cold virus. I need something to absolutely stop my nose in it's tracks - I absolutely cannot take it any longer. DayQuil is not meeting my needs.

What specific brand do I need? What chemicals should I look for?

Pushkin
12-12-2008, 01:09 PM
I'd be interested to know, I asked a pharmacist the same question and was told that they didn't have anything that would help. The OTC stuff was all geared to unblocking, if your nose was runny, in their eyes it seemed like a good thing.

Zsofia
12-12-2008, 01:10 PM
Somebody at the pharmacy dares tell me that and I'll snot all over him.

atomicbadgerrace
12-12-2008, 01:15 PM
For me, Mucinex does the trick. Anytime I've got a runny nose, I pop one of those, and I'm good to go.

Of course, the trade off is that you get to cough it up, instead. Worth it, to me.

Chief Pedant
12-12-2008, 03:12 PM
The selections really confuse me now, what with the stuff I can or can't make meth with and everything. Went to the doc on Monday with a sinus infection, but I kind of think maybe it's been joined by a opportunistic little cold virus. I need something to absolutely stop my nose in it's tracks - I absolutely cannot take it any longer. DayQuil is not meeting my needs.

What specific brand do I need? What chemicals should I look for?

The decongestant pseudoephedrine is the drug I think you are referring to that is used a a base for meth.

For a runny nose, you probably want something in the antihistamine family.
Here's a link that summarizes antihistamines for consumers, and down at the bottom there's a link for decongestants: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center/otc-medicines/857.html

I'm not so sure I'd recommend one particular antihistamine over another for efficacy. My personal potion of choice for cold symptoms is Claritin D. It combines the antihistamine loratidine with the decongestant pseudoephedrine. Here in Illinois you can get it without a prescription but you do have to sign for it b/c of the pseudoephedrine.

ETA: Mucinex contains guaiafensin only. MucinexD does not contain an antihistamine either, btw. It contains guaiafensin and pseudoephedrine. Geared more toward loosening up mucus (guaiafensin) and decongesting (pseudoephedrine).

Chief Pedant
12-12-2008, 03:21 PM
Mucinex contains guaiafensin only.

Guaifensin. Never could spell it and it's past the Pedant's naptime.

Ferret Herder
12-12-2008, 03:31 PM
For a runny nose, you probably want something in the antihistamine family.
Here's a link that summarizes antihistamines for consumers, and down at the bottom there's a link for decongestants: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center/otc-medicines/857.html

I thought antihistamines were only effective against symptoms when there was an allergic reaction going on. (Not including their anti-nausea properties.) Do they have a secondary "drying up" effect regardless of what is causing the runny nose? Or is this whole histamine reaction thing rather more complicated than I expected?

Hirka T'Bawa
12-12-2008, 09:17 PM
If your nose is running, the best OTC medication you can take would be an antihistamine like Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) or Claritin (Loratadine). An antihistamine would help dry you up. A decongestant will not help with a runny nose, since if the nose is running you probably aren't congested.

Mucinex (Guaifenesin) wouldn't really help since what it does is loosen and thin your mucous, which normally isn't a problem with a runny nose.

Hirka T'Bawa
Pharmacist Intern

Chief Pedant
12-12-2008, 10:26 PM
I thought antihistamines were only effective against symptoms when there was an allergic reaction going on. (Not including their anti-nausea properties.) Do they have a secondary "drying up" effect regardless of what is causing the runny nose? Or is this whole histamine reaction thing rather more complicated than I expected?

It's probably not a lot more complicated than that although the exact pathophysiology of how viruses cause runny noses is not clearcut. It's reasonable to take a purist approach that lets infectious rhinitis take its course without any pharmacologic intervention (which is the reason I choose the term "potions" to imply something less than hard medicine when talking about the stuff we give for colds and other viral URI syndromes).

You'll see recommendations in both directions. In practice for someone with a really runny nose from a viral syndrome who is miserable it's reasonable to try an antihistamine-decongestant combination. Most of us think there is probably some benefit but the evidence is not exactly overwhelming.

Zsofia
12-12-2008, 10:35 PM
Well, I ran by the drugstore today and picked up the same thing I'd been taking before, essentially - Dayquil now has the phenylephrine, but the generic still has pseudoephedrine which you have to get from the pharmacy people and sign for. I'd never run a real test like that before - HOLY CRAP what a difference. I am a much happier campier now than this afternoon! Granted, I might just be (wonders never cease) getting better, or maybe my runny nose has turned into more solid gross congestion, but at any rate, essentially the "same thing" with one different ingredient has made me a lot more comfortable.

Seriously, what kind of dumb-ass crap is that? How many people get colds every year and need some kind of symptom relief? Okay, now how many people make meth in their backyards? Thought so.

Hirka T'Bawa
12-12-2008, 11:55 PM
Personally, I think Pseudoephedrine is a much better decongestant then Phenylephrine. One thing I've done since I started working in a pharmacy; I only buy single ingredient drugs anymore. That way I can take only what I need for the symptom I have.

Right now in my medicine drawer, I have:
Diphenhydramine 25mg tablets (Antihistamine) I use this when I get sick, and as a sleep aid.
Pseudoephedrine 30mg tablets (decongestant)
Guaifenesin 400mg tablets (Expectorant)
Guaifenesin 400mg/Dextromethorphan 20mg tablets (Expectorant and OTC cough suppressant)
Acetaminophen 500mg tablets (pain/fever reducer) - I hardly use this, since I drink a decent amount.
Ibuprofen 200mg softgels (NSAID pain reducer) - My pain pill of choice
Caffeine 200mg tablets (Stimulant, Hey! I'm in PHARMACY SCHOOL!:D)
Plus a bottle of Cheratussin AC codeine 10mg/100mg Guaifenesin per 5ml. It is a 4oz (118ml) bottle. In Georgia this is legal to sell over the counter, if you have someone to order and sell it to you. This is for a REALLY bad cough. Nothing works better then codeine.

In my experience if you buy all the combo drugs, you get a drug you really don't need.

Caractacus Pott
12-13-2008, 11:18 AM
Nasalcrom (http://www.brands2liveby.com/product.aspx?id=419) is another option. All it does is dry up your nose. Period. Dry as a bone. It's the only medication I've seen that has absolutely no drug interaction warnings. No rebound or anything. It can burn a little right after you spray it in your nose but that goes away after a minute or so. Oddly, the first few links on Nasalcrom say it takes a week or two to take effect but it usually starts drying my nose within a few minutes. Huh. As long as my nose doesn't know, I'm happy.