If you get sick during cold and flu season, you're probably among the millions who pay through the running nose for over-the-counter cold medications. In fact, Americans spend $8 billion on the stuff every year, because the fleeting relief is worth every penny, right? But what if the medication doesn't actually provide relief at all? Unfortunately, new research suggests that's the case with a medication widely used to alleviate nasal congestion from a cold and allergies.
Experts at the University of Florida say phenylephrine, an oral decongestant used in popular over-the-counter brands, flat out doesn't work when taking the FDA-approved dose and even much higher doses, according to a report by Forbes. A quick stroll through a drug store cold medicine aisle (shudder) will reveal phenylephrine on almost every over-the-counter cold medicine option, likely thanks to federal restrictions on products containing pseudoephedrine because, well, it can be used to make meth. Remember "Breaking Bad"?