After a fabulous day of skiing, I brought my sore body home and discovered that I had the sniffles. Not just being out in the cold sniffles, but the “I am a cold” type of sniffles. Panicked, I started racking my brain to see if I had any cold medicine so I could stave off this impending cold. With minimal time off from work and a cold being a pain in the neck, I wanted, no, needed to nip any signs of a cold in the bud.
But as I was about to reach for my nighttime cold medicine of choice, I remembered an article I had read this morning in my daily newspaper. The title: “Save money by using medications right.” Wah? You had me at ‘save money’.
The article talks about how many medications do not help colds, that colds must run their course. The best remedy? Rest and fluids. Instead of choking down chemicals to make me feel better, I should try what my body really needs. A study in the article argues that cold medicines will not help the cold go away faster, just lessen the discomfort of the symptoms until it does.
The thing that hit me the most about the article was that some medications can cause the same problems that it is supposed to be fixing. For example, if you take headache medication consistently and more than you should (which is considered drug abuse), then you can get rebound headaches. This really hits home. My dear mother gets awful migraines, takes headache medication, gets rebound headaches from the medication. Then she gets a migraine, takes medication and the whole cycle begins again.
But the headline of the article is to stop spending money on quick fixes. While your health insurance coverage will doubtfully reach to cover over the counter medications, all of those symptom relievers will have to come out of your own pocket. Now it is not that you should not take those medications. The real point is that these medications should be taken correctly. Some nasal sprays work wonders to clear nasal passages. But if the spray is used for more than three days it will make your symptoms worse.
Drug abuse can be a serious problem. Abuse of over the counter drugs has forced drug stores to put certain medications behind the counter. And some stores force you to show identification to prove you are older than 18 to purchase others.
In summary, taking medications can relieve terrible symptoms. In can make those unbearable colds a little more bearable. They can be the light at the end of the tunnel. But when those medications are used improperly they can be just as detrimental as they are helpful. Taking more doses than are recommended can result in rebound symptoms and can be considered drug abuse. But the best reason to focus on taking the right medications: it saves you money! Take only what you need and rely on good old fashioned remedies like rest and hydration.