Pharmacist FAQ

Q:Cold & Cough – Why isn’t there a cold vaccine?

A:The common cold can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. It’s just too difficult for scientists to prepare a vaccine that protects against all of the cold viruses. Also, there’s less need for a cold vaccine. Colds are minor infections of the throat, nose and sinuses. Colds generally come and go with no serious complications.

Q:Cold & Cough – Could my cold symptoms actually be allergies?

A:If you are sniffling, but not achy or feverish at all, you may very well have allergies. Also, if your symptoms last longer than two weeks, and you also have red, itchy eyes, the evidence points to allergies. However, it’s often hard to tell because people with allergies and asthma are more likely to get colds. They may already have inflamed and irritated lungs – so they are less able to fight off a cold virus.

Q:Cold & Cough – I have a terrible cold and someone recommended an over-the-counter nasal spray to relieve congestion. Do these medicines work and what are the side effects?

A:There are two solutions your friend may be recommending. One is saline nasal drops and sprays. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays combat stuffiness and congestion and are safe for children and adults. They have been proven to help relieve the symptoms of the cold, but they will not cure it.

Your friend also may be recommending a nasal decongestant. This medication can help relieve your cold symptoms as well; however, it is highly advised to not use any type of decongestants for more than five days unless told by your doctor. The medicine shrinks your nasal membranes so that you can breathe easier. However, using decongestants for more than five days can lead to a rebound effect — a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued – because your nasal tissues become dependent on the medication

Q:Cold & Cough – Will a humidifier in our home help my kids from getting sick this winter?

A:Most illnesses are caused by germs being spread from one person to another. The best way to stay healthy is to wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water, and avoid people who are sick.

Humidifiers can help soothe familiar problems caused by dry indoor air – dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips. And some health care providers will tell you that keeping your sinuses moist will help ward off viruses better than dry sinuses. We do know for sure that humidifiers can help ease symptoms of a cold or another respiratory condition. But be cautious — dirty humidifiers can breed mold or bacteria that can make you sick. Clean your humidifier regularly and monitor the level of moisture in the air in your home with a small monitor. If you have allergies or asthma, talk to your doctor before using a humidifier..