Posted: August 2023
(4 Minute Read)
Preparing for cold and flu season is crucial in order to stay resilient and manage symptoms effectively. A home cold and flu remedy kit is a proactive approach to staying on your game through the winter months. By obtaining these essential items and educating yourself on their uses, you can empower yourself and your family to manage cold and flu symptoms effectively and prevent the spread of these viruses within your home and community.
Your best defense against the flu is prevention. The flu vaccine is one powerful safeguard against the illness, but you can also limit the spread of germs by practicing regular hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, shaking hands or touching high-contact surfaces as well as before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Rite Aid offers various immune-supporting supplements, such as Emergen-C supplements for adults, that may help strengthen your body's defenses against winter illnesses.* Airborne Immune Support Supplement is another product that promotes immune-support for adults.* For the little ones, Emergen-C Kidz Immune Plus, Olly Kids Immunity gummies and immune support vitamins for children may help keep kids healthy during cold and flu season.* Zicam products such as Zicam Cold Remedy can help to reduce the duration of cold symptoms when taken at the first sign for some individuals.**
The flu vaccine is another powerful tool in helping to prevent illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every season, especially those at higher risk. To receive your flu vaccine or other immunizations, visit a Rite Aid store or schedule an appointment online.^
There are a few basic things any home cold and flu remedy kit should contain. First things first, you will want to monitor your temperature. For adults, an oral thermometer will do the trick. A "no touch" infrared ear or forehead thermometer may be a safer and quicker option for younger children who cannot sit still.
You will also need plenty of facial tissues, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to prevent the spread of germs around the home. Remember to clean high-touch surfaces regularly. Now, let's dive a little deeper.
You have many over-the-counter (OTC) medication options for symptom relief.
Fever reducers and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), can reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of elevated temperature, sore throat and generalized aches or pains. Children's Motrin and Children's Tylenol are specifically made for the youngest members of your family. Look at the age and weight dosing guidelines to know how much medicine to give. If your child's weight does not fall in the same dose range as their age, dose them according to weight.
Long-acting cough suppressants, such as Delsym, decrease the cough reflex. Seeing as they generally last 12 hours, cough suppressants provide excellent overnight relief. Expectorants like Mucinex loosen and thin chest congestion, making it easier to cough up. Some medications like Robitussin Cough + Chest Congestion DM contain a combination of both types of cough medicines.
Nasal decongestants reduce the swelling in the nasal passages which helps to clear nasal congestion and makes breathing easier.
If you'd rather treat all your symptoms with one medicine, you can take a multi-symptom cold and flu relief medication. Some medications like Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Cold & Flu fizz tablets or Vicks DayQuil & NyQuil Hot Remedy powder mix will dissolve in water if your throat is too sore to swallow pills. If you take a multi-symptom cold and flu relief medication, check all active ingredients before taking other OTC medications. Many multi-symptom cold and flu remedies contain the same active ingredients in pain, fever, cough and decongestant drugs.
Keep in mind that children under four years of age should not take any cough and cold medicines. If your child is between four and six years of age, speak with their pediatrician about which remedies may be safe for them. Rite Aid pharmacists recommend Vicks Children's Cough & Congestion Relief or Dimetapp Children's Cough & Cold Congestion for kids aged six and up.
If you prefer to treat your symptoms without medication (or want other non-pharmaceutical remedies to provide additional relief), here are a few items to consider:
As an alternative to vaporizers, chest rubs like Zarbee's Baby Chest Rub can also provide a calming effect, especially at night.*
Honey is a potent cough suppressant, but it is not suitable for children under the age of one. For adults and children over the age of one, you may give one-half to one teaspoon of honey as needed.
Maintain an accurate, up-to-date list of all medications you take, including OTC medications, supplements, injectable medications and inhalers. Update your list whenever you have a medication change, so you don't have to rely on your memory or quickly grab all medicines if you need to visit the doctor, urgent care or emergency room.
Unless you seek medical care, stay home until you have been fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours. Wear a mask if you must go out in public. If possible, have an alternative childcare plan if your child cannot attend daycare due to illness.
The CDC provides free, printable flu information resources that your family can keep for reference.
Most cases of the flu will resolve with home treatment, but seek medical care if you experience any of the following:
Symptoms that worsen after they start to improve
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Persistent chest or abdominal pain
Dizziness, confusion or lethargy
Signs of dehydration, such as a drastic decrease in urine output (or dry diapers in children)
Severe muscle pain or weakness
In children, abnormal movements of the rib muscles (called retractions) or a bluish coloring to the lips and face
Before taking supplements, please check with your doctor or pharmacist — and see a healthcare provider if your symptoms do not resolve with OTC or home remedies. Remember: Your health is paramount. Be proactive, and empower yourself and your loved ones to navigate the coming cold and flu season.
Written by: Cyra-Lea Drummond, BSN, RN
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Homeopathic products are not approved or evaluated by the FDA for safety or effectiveness and their product claims are based on traditional homeopathic practice, not current accepted scientific or medical evidence of safety or efficacy. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting any homeopathic product regimen or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.
^Some vaccinations may be contraindicated in certain individuals. Your pharmacist or healthcare professional will help determine your vaccination eligibility.
These articles are intended for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in these articles. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or medication regimen.