Prescription medications are not usually necessary to treat a cough or cold. Over-the-counter medications are usually all that is necessary. In some instances prescriptions may be of benefit. If the over-the-counter cough medications are not strong enough, there are prescription cough medications that may help. Most coughs and colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics are not effective for theses types of infections. Occasionally a bacterial infection may be present and these may require an antibiotic. Sometimes a bronchitis can trigger an asthmatic like reaction. in this case prescription medications that are typically used for asthma may be beneficial.
Over the counter cold medications such as Robitussin or Mucinex contain medications that will thin out the mucus and help relieve the cough. Prescription cough medications contain codeine or other narcotic. These are powerful cough suppressants but may cause significant drowsiness. If a prescription cough medication is used it is often prescribed for night time to suppress the cough and help get sleep. During the daytime an over-the-counter cough medication can be used.
Coughs and colds are almost always caused by viruses. These types of infections are not helped by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can cause harm when used if not necessary. They can cause resistance so that when they are needed they will not work. They can also give side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections. Occasionally antibiotics are necessary. A could or cough with a high fever (greater than 101-102) may be a sign of a bacterial infection. If a high fever develops, a trip to the doctor is needed. Viral illnesses such as coughs and colds are self limited meaning they should be gone fairly quickly. A cough or cold that lasts more than 2 weeks could be a sign of a bacterial infection and deserves a visit to the doctor. In this case an antibiotic may be necessary. Most coughs an colds that also have sinus pressure are still viral and do not require antibiotics. Sever sinus pain may be bacterial and could require antibiotics. Bronchitis is usually viral as well and most often does not require antibiotics.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes, he tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. Bronchitis can often cause wheezing and asthma type symptoms. If a bronchitis does cause asthma type symptoms a prescription inhaler may be helpful. The only way to know for sure is an examination by a doctor with a stethoscope. By listening to the lungs the doctor will be able to tell if a prescription asthma medications would be helpful.
Many people get worried by low grade fevers, 101 or less. These fevers are actually helpful. Low grade fevers are one of the the body’s normal responses to infections. These low grade fevers help the body fight the infection and help the patient get better more quickly.