With Halloween fast approaching, you may have trick-or-treating on the brain. I know my kids do! We love this time of year. But if a nasty fall cold, upset stomach or ragweed allergy has you stuck inside, the time to treat may be now.
Many of us like to think we’re pretty tough (especially if we’ve lived through a couple Canadian winters!), but knowing when to treat minor ailments and symptoms at home is an important part of self-care. If you’re not sure if it’s time to reach for the medicine cabinet, read on! It’s important to know what the experts have to say about how to know when you need to get treatment.
Here are tips for treating three common ailments from Wendy Bordman, an experienced community pharmacist.
Knowing if you have the Common Cold
You likely already know that nothing can cure the common cold. Most colds run their course in seven to 10 days, whether or not you are taking anything to help manage your symptoms. The best treatments in your arsenal are rest and plenty of liquids – like water, juice, broth or soup.
If your cold symptoms stick around for more than seven days and you are feeling worse instead of better, or if your symptoms are severe, visit your doctor or healthcare provider.
Knowing if you have Allergies
Ragweed is a common culprit of fall seasonal allergies throughout North America. Having allergies can have a big impact on your daily activities. People with allergies often have difficulty concentrating which can affect performance and even lead to absence from work or school. Symptoms can include sneezing, itching, hives and watery eyes. First line of defense is to avoid contact with the allergens, this can be done by keeping doors and windows closed to reduce the amount of pollen that can get in the home and staying indoors with the pollen counts are high.
If this doesn’t work, there are a couple medication options that can help you get though allergy season. First-generation antihistamines have been on the market for decades. They work well, but often leave you feeling sleepy. For daytime relief, try a second-generation antihistamine, like Aerius. They get the job done without the drowsiness.
Knowing if you have Constipation
Identifying and targeting the symptoms of constipation and irregularity are important first steps. Constipation can happen to anyone. Potential causes could be certain medications or diet or not consuming enough water. For a child, it could be similar reasons but the common periods could be when they start solids, are toilet training or when they start school. Infrequent bowel movements are just one symptom. If you know you or your loved one has constipation, there are several options for relieving symptoms, including increasing fiber intake. Adults should be consuming around 30g fiber daily. Sources can include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This increase in fiber should be accompanied by an increase in water consumption. Also, exercise can keep the bowels moving and it is important not to withhold the urge to go as this can worsen the constipation.
If the changes in diet and habits do not work then using a medication may be appropriate. You may be surprised to learn that there are several different types of laxatives available. Choosing the right one can help limit disruption to your daily routine and decrease the risk of your bowel becoming dependent.
If you have questions about treating your minor ailment at home, talk to you pharmacist or health care provider. If you choose to take any of the advice in this article, make sure you always read through all labels and instructions carefully and always use as directed.