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Should you take a cold medicine?

2024-01-22 00:00:00 / episode: 317


You wake up in the morning and instantly you know that you have a problem because your throat has a funny tickle to it.

This is going to be OK today but by tonight it's gonna be worse and the next day you're gonna have a sore throat and then the cold is gonna come on full throttle.

Should you take a cold medicine?

Hi and welcome to the Les Perras podcast episode number 371.

Today I want to talk about cold medicines, what's in them, what they do, and should you use them?

What are the main ingredients?

Depending on the medicine, there's different ingredients, but three big ones that I found in my research were acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and Phenylephrine.

A lot of the cold medicines that are on the market contain 2 or even all three of these ingredients and they all have slightly different uses.

Let's take a look.


Acetaminophen is in almost all the cold medicines.

This one is gonna reduce your fever.

It won't get rid of your fever, but it will make it a little bit better.

Additionally, it's going to give you some relief from mild pain, and maybe even moderate pain.

When you catch a cold often you have pain in your joints or even in your muscles.

This is going to help with that.


dextromethorphan is meant to relieve a cough. Be careful here because you might get the wrong idea about it.

This medicine does not make your cough better.

It works by acting on the part of the brain that makes you cough.

It suppresses the part of the brain that makes you cough.

So you don't cough as much.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't cough, and it doesn't mean you're better.

As an analogy, it's a Band-Aid.

It means you can't see the problem anymore, but the problem is still there.


Phenylephrine is a drug that can help relieve nasal discomfort.

It works on different kinds of nasal discomfort.

If you have problems from colds, allergies, or hayfever, this one is going to help you feel a little bit better.

But pay attention to those words: make you feel better.

It doesn't make you better.

It makes you feel better.

So it's just like the two medicines above.

It works on your feelings not on your illness.

If you take these medicines you're not getting better.

Not a Cure

These medicines don't cure you.

They make you feel better.

On the other hand if you feel better, your body is more relaxed and feeling less stress.

If there's less stress, then your body can put more of its energy into fighting the cold.

If you're feeling a lot of physical stress from the pain and the discomfort of the cold, your body might be wasting energy and resources on stress hormones, and steroids like cortizone.

This could be more counterproductive and cause more problems than it helps. So taking the cold medicine could help you get better.

It's just removing some roadblocks.

But the medicine itself doesn't make you better,

and it doesn't make you get better faster.

My grandma said those medicines were a waste of money.

The reason she said that was she said you don't know if you're better or not better.

You don't know if you're sick or not.

I'm inclined to agree with her.

Don't take medicine so you can know exactly how sick you are.

Not bad advice considering these medicines don't make you better.

If you’re interested in listening to podcasts about health, try listening to my podcast about sugar detox after this.

Thanks for listening.