Colds: do medicines really help?

Verified on 11/17/2023 by PasseportSanté
Rhume : les médicaments sont-ils vraiment utiles ?

In winter, it’s hard not to catch a cold! But when it does arrive, what are the right things to do? Is it really necessary to run straight to the chemist’s to buy some medicine? We tell you all about it!

Cold remedies are almost as common as colds themselves! But do they really work? No more suspense! Nothing can cure a cold.

However, there are remedies that can help relieve your symptoms and prevent you from feeling unwell for the duration of your cold!

What to do when you catch a cold

Runny nose, headache, cough… We all know the symptoms of a cold. What we don’t always know, however, is how to behave when one arrives.

The first reflex is to go to the pharmacy to buy medicine. But this isn’t necessarily a good idea, first and foremost because colds are caused by viruses, and viruses go away on their own!

Secondly, it’s best to avoid these drugs because most of them contain the dangerous active ingredient pseudoephedrine.

This molecule narrows blood vessels and can therefore be very harmful to people with cardiovascular risks.

Medicines containing this molecule include : Actifed rhume, Dolirhume, Humex… And many other over-the-counter medicines!

In fact, the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) recently sounded the alarm on oral vasoconstrictor medications! These over-the-counter cold tablets are said to have harmful side effects for consumers.

« Myocardial infarctions and strokes can occur after using vasoconstrictor drugs (pseudoephedrine) intended to relieve cold symptoms. The risk is very low, but these events can occur regardless of the dose and duration of treatment » , warns ANSM.

ANSM advises against the use of these drugs until they are re-evaluated at European level!

Medication doesn’t change the course of a cold!

These over-the-counter drugs are marketing products that are ultimately more dangerous than effective.

«  Medicines don’t change the course of the common cold; it’s essentially a business, » explained Bruno Toussaint, editor-in-chief of the medical journal Prescrire, in a report for France 2.

And colds heal on their own in 7 to 10 days! However, it’s true that it can be annoying during this period to constantly have a blocked nose…

So, if you have a cold, the best thing to do is rest, and take paracetamol if you have a severe headache.

Remember to wash your hands regularly, especially after blowing your nose, and throw away your tissues after each use.

You can also wash your nose with saline or seawater solutions . It’s not pleasant, but it’s terribly effective!