On Thursday night, I started getting a sore throat.
By Friday, sore turned to scratchy-and-coughing.
On Saturday, congestion and sinus pain set in. I know it’s just that time of year, but I couldn’t help but feel a little irked that I was the one in our household who got sick. Not any of my kids, who spend five days a week in school boosting their immunity systems. Not my husband, who likely endures the same at his office.
“You probably got it from a shopping cart,” my mom helpfully pointed out. (She’s probably right.)
Regardless of how I got sick, one of the perks of being a couponer is that there are usually cold medicines and supplies on hand. Back in October, a bunch of Robitussin cold medicines were on clearance at Jewel for $1.74. With the $3 coupons that were out at the time, they were free and moneymakers, so they came home.
Over the past couple days, I’ve tried out all of the ones I brought home from that trip, and… they don’t work. This unplanned experiment has reaffirmed something I already knew: Phenylephrine-based over-the-counter cold medicines don’t do a darn thing to alleviate a stuffy nose.
In the good old days, you could head to any supermarket or pharmacy and grab a box of pseudoephedrine-based cold medicine off the shelf, and less than an hour later, you’d be breathing freely and feeling somewhat better. Pseudoephedrine works. Of course, it’s also a product that can be used to manufacture an illicit substance, so pseudoephedrine was regulated for behind-the-pharmacy counter distribution.
Yet, almost a decade after that study, brands continue to sell, promote, and market phenylephrine as an oral cold medicine.
After suffering for two days with products known to be “as effective as placebos,” my experiment is over. A trip to CVS for “the good stuff” revealed that they were sold out of pseudoephedrine-based Sudafed, but the CVS generic has the same ingredients. After taking the CVS pseudoephedrine and following it up with Excedrin, I am breathing through my nose again. Hooray for products that work!
— Kleenex® Brand (@Kleenex) February 28, 2015
To anyone else who might be suffering from whatever’s going around right now, trust me on these things:
- Don’t waste your time on over-the-counter decongestants. Send someone to the pharmacy to bring you “the good stuff.”
- Lotion-based tissues will save your nose. The Cool Touch Kleneex are a scientific marvel.
- Use those sanitizer wipes that the grocery store provides for your shopping cart handle. (I should have.)