Colds: these drugs could be dangerous

UFC-Que Choisir alerts consumers to the adverse effects associated with the use of drugs containing first-generation antihistamines to treat the common cold.

A warning that calls out in the middle of winter. In an article posted on this site on Monday, UFC-Que Choisir alerts French consumers to the adverse effects associated with the use of drugs containing first-generation antihistamines to treat colds. The consumer association has notably targeted the anti-cold drug brands Fervex and Humex.

These contain antihistamines, usually used against allergies, as well as products such as pheniramine or chlorphenamine.

Clinical trials of both substances have shown minimal effect on cold symptoms in the first two days of illness. Worse still, they become totally ineffective after these two days.

According to laboratory tests, the combination of these substances with paracetamol has much more convincing effects on the common cold. Pheniramine and chlorphenamine have no effect on sneezing and runny or stuffy nose. Therefore, UFC-Que Choisir indicated that it was wiser to use only paracetamol in case of colds.

Drugs with multiple side effects

On the other hand, these two chemical compounds can have serious adverse effects on patients, especially in the elderly. These first-generation antihistamines are also anticholinergics. They have the effect of drying out the mouth, constipating, accelerating the heart rate and blurring the vision, according to UFC-Que Choisir. Finally, they can cause confusion and hallucinations in some patients.

These two substances can increase the risk of falling asleep, which can be dangerous for a patient who has to drive. Note also the risk of paracetamol overdose when taking these drugs with tablets targeting other symptoms, which can lead to irreversible liver complications. If in doubt, you should therefore consult your doctor or pharmacist for any medical advice.

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