Cold & Coughing Tips

We are in the throes of cold and flu season and many of us are sick for the first time in a couple of years. As miserable as isolation and masking can be, it sure did work well to keep colds away. This would be a good email to save to refer back to anytime you get an upper respiratory infection. I am going to give you my best tips for getting through these kinds of illnesses. There is no magic bullet. If there were one, there would only be that one thing on the shelf at the pharmacy, rather than a million things that don’t do a whole lot. Here are my best recommendations:


  • Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen! The worst thing about these illnesses are the fevers, sinus pain, sore throats, ear pain, headaches, body aches, and chest pressure, and they are all things that can be relieved in the short term with these meds. They will help you be less miserable! When you take stuff like DayQuil or NyQuil you are only getting a tiny bit of these medicines – not enough to be very helpful. DayQuil and NyQuil only have 325 mg of acetaminophen in them. This is the main reason why I am not a big fan of the over-the-counter, grab-bag cold medicines. I call them grab bag because they throw 2-3 meds in there and hope that something helps. Sometimes it does, but often one of the ingredients makes you feel worse due to dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, or insomnia. I prefer to have you just take what you need.


·         Dosing for an adults 120 lbs or heavier (if you weigh less than this please consult me):


·         Acetaminophen (Tylenol): 500 mg tablets usually – take 2 tablets (1000 mg) every 4 hours as needed. Do not take more than 4000 mg in a day (or if taking chronically, then only 3000 mg day). Does not need to be taken with food.


·         Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin): 200 mg tablets – take 3-4 tablets (600 to 800 mg) every 6 hours as needed. ALWAYS take it with food. If it bothers your stomach, stop and let me know. You can’t take if you are on other blood thinners and should avoid if you have a history of stomach ulcers etc.

  • Decongestants/Antihistamines: I am not a big fan of these meds. They have little evidence of making much of a difference for colds and they can make you feel worse. The decongestants (like Sudafed) can raise your blood pressure, make you feel speedy and give you trouble sleeping. Antihistamines are great for allergies. They also can be useful for sedation (like the Benedryl/diphenhydramine in Tylenol PM). If you have used any of these medicines in the past and really felt like it made a big difference, I won’t say not to use it, but I just find most people don’t notice a big difference.
  • Cough medicine: Coughing is often the worse symptom. It keeps you up at night which is miserable. There is much to say here. Please watch this 6 min video I made to help you survive a coughing illness!


Cough video


If you don’t want to watch the video, please at least consider a humidifier in the room at night. It will help a lot! I don’t think cough syrups help much. Robitussin performed worse in a blinded study than a spoonful of honey did at suppressing coughs in kids. If you are coughing a lot, and the cough is not getting better after a couple of days, please watch the video and feel free to come see me!


Thank you for partnering with me to keep you healthy! I wish you all a December filled with peace, health, love, and exercise. ( :