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Cold vs. Flu: Selecting Right Over-The-Counter Medicine

Doctors and local pharmacists say a vast majority of people who are feeling sick do not need to go to the emergency room or to the doctor so they're encouraging them to try over-the-counter medication.
As emergency room visits continue to rise, many are finding out they don't have the flu at all.

Doctors and local pharmacists say a vast majority of people who are feeling sick do not need to go to the emergency room or to the doctor so they're encouraging them to try over-the-counter medication.

Registered Pharmacist at Market Street Shari Shultz says it is important to know the difference between the common cold and the flu.

"Overall, I think a person feels much much worse when they have the flu versus a cold," Shultz says. 

She says it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two based on symptoms alone. 

Shultz says flu symptoms include fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough while colds are usually milder than the flu. 

People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. 

"There's no point in going to the emergency room unless a person feels like their life is in danger," Shultz exclaims. "If it's a simple cough or cold, something like that, for most people; they'd be fine to get a product that's going to help with that until their symptoms go away."

However, out of the endless options; what should you get?

Shultz says people have to be careful when selecting over-the-counter medicine.

She says to get medicine that treats symptoms you currently have instead of buying multi-symptom products.

Shultz says, "A lot of the time, there are products that have ingredients that you don't necessarily need so just ask and we can help find something that is useful."

In addition, Shultz says if your severe symptoms are persistent, to go to the emergency room or see your doctor immediately.

Those symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion, or severe lightheadedness, vomiting or diarrhea which can lead to dehydration.

Shultz also says if you do have flu-like symptoms to buy medicine that contains acetaminophen because it is a pain reliever and fever reducer and will help alleviate some of your symptoms. 
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