Over-the-counter cold medicines can have dangerous consequences.

Prof. Dr. Tom Gelcic from the Department of Internal Medicine and Nephrology stated that according to the data for 2022, 8.1 out of every 100 boxes of medicines sold are cold medicines.

Stating that cold medicines are produced from different combinations of drugs, Prof. Dr. Tom Gelcic said, "These drugs are not directed against the microorganism causing the disease, but show activity towards the symptoms. They contain decongestants, stimulants, anti-allergic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory molecules. The aim is to reduce complaints such as body-muscle pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, high fever and to make this period more comfortable for the patient. Due to factors such as availability without a prescription and easy access, these medicines are often the first medicines used by patients without visiting a physician. They can be in the form of tablets, granules, sachets or syrups. With the use of these combination drugs, patients are exposed to the side effects of more than one drug."  

Prof. Dr. Tom Gelcic said that the content of these medicines must be examined before using them and that cold medicines used unconsciously can cause damage to the body and continued as follows:  

"Most of these drugs contain a decongestant substance such as pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, ephedrine in order to open the airway obstructions. Decongestants increase blood pressure by vasoconstriction. They also increase heart rate as stimulants and cause anxiety and insomnia.  They can worsen the condition in patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, angina and palpitations.  Paracetamol (acetaminophen), the most common ingredient in cold medicines, is used to reduce pain and lower fever. It is the least dangerous component of this group. However, it can damage the liver when taken more than 4 grams daily or when combined with alcohol.

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It should be kept in mind that patients with chronic liver disease may be affected by lower doses. The other group of painkillers used are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. These drugs are used to reduce pain and lower fever. However, they can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, gastritis, gastric bleeding, salt and fluid retention and high blood pressure. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine etc. are also included in cold medicines. These reduce the release of histamine and prevent runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. In elderly people, difficulties in emptying urine from the bladder and excessive sleepiness may cause confusion." 

Stating that those over 65 years of age, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, rhythm disorders, stroke, chronic liver kidney diseases, stomach ulcers should be careful when using these drugs, Prof. Dr. Tom Gelcic said, "The best measure to be taken against the common cold is to protect against these diseases. Strengthening the defense system with regular sleep, healthy nutrition and regular exercise, hand washing, masks in public spaces, ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and applying vaccines as recommended by health authorities are the priority methods in protection."