Patient Education: Cough or Cold, What to Take

NOTE: The information provided on these websites is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or emergency treatment. You should not use any information on these websites to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider.

Non-medication treatment for your cough or cold

  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Try to breathe moist air. Use a humidifier or take a steamy shower.
  • Consume warm fluids (soup or tea) to provide relief for a stuffy nose and to loosen phlegm.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. If you cannot, ensure you are getting enough nutrients by taking a daily multivitamin.
  • Avoid dairy products, as they can thicken phlegm.
  • Avoid alcohol, as it impairs your body’s immune system.

Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • High fever (Temperature > 101F for > 72 hrs)
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus-type headache
  • Unusually severe cold symptoms
  • Cough that gets worse while other cold symptoms improve
  • Flare up of any chronic lung problem, such as asthma
  • No improvement in symptoms for more than 10 days 

Recommended non-prescription medications by symptom

Contact the SHCC Pharmacy with any questions or concerns about medications: (352) 392-1760.

Cough, Non-productive (not coughing up phlegm)

  • Cough suppressant containing dextromethorphan (Robitussin® DM or Delsym®)

Cough, Productive (coughing up phlegm)

  • Cough suppressant (see above)
  • Expectorant: Mucinex® tablets or plain guaifenesin syrup, also known as Robitussin®

Fever/Headache/Muscle Aches

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®)

Nasal Stuffiness

  • Saline nasal spray or a Neti Pot.
  • Nasal steroid sprays: Flonase® or Nasacort®
  • Decongestants:
    • Topical spray: Oxymetazoline (Afrin® Nasal Spray); limit to 3-4 days maximum
    • Oral medication: Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®) – MUST BE PURCHASED FROM PHARMACIST

Runny and/or Itchy Nose/Sneezing

  • Nasal steroid sprays: Flonase® or Nasacort®
  • Antihistamine: Benadryl®, which will likely cause drowsiness, or Loratadine (Alavert®), which is not as likely to cause drowsiness

Sore Throat Pain Relief

  • Suck on throat lozenges, hard candy or popsicles
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 tsp. salt per 8 oz. of water); and eat soft, bland foods.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®).
  • Try throat sprays (Chloraseptic®).