I managed to be sick most of last week, which wasn't much fun at all. I rarely take any sort of drugs when I'm sick, rather just resting and surviving through it. The exception is when I have a cold and am so congested I can't really breathe well. For that, I usually keep a good stock of DayQuil (the gelcaps, not the liquid, bleah) on hand, because it does an amazing job of keeping your head clear and breathing. I still had some (that I probably bought a couple of years ago, and admit was a bit past its expiration date, considering how infrequently I find myself needing it), but it still worked wonders. On Saturday morning I ran out of it, so I stopped by the drug store to get some more. No problem, right? Well, mainly I wanted to not be sniffling all through Saturday night at my cousin's wedding (pictures in the online album, btw). I took the stuff in the afternoon and the evening, and neither time did my head clear up. Maybe the drugs were broken? Was my cold just so bad nothing could save it? Did I just imagine taking it? Something wasn't right. I got home Saturday night and took another dose right before I went to bed, usually ensuring at least a clear night's sleep. But I woke up about an hour later with my nose so stuffed up I could barely breathe. It was horrible! I finally made it to sleep (probably because I was actually getting better, not necessarily because any drugs were helping me) and slept through most of the night.
Sunday morning it was time to do some research. I look at the DayQuil box and what do I see, they have actually CHANGED one of the active ingredients that is supposed to solve all the sinus congestion. How dare they?!
Now for your education moment... if you have read nothing else, read this and learn...
DayQuil, as with most other over-the-counter cold medicines, used to contain Pseudoephedrine which does an amazingly good job at clearing sinus congestion. However, as the most unscrupulous world of illicit drugs also learned, is remarkably easy to break down into Methamphetamines. Thanks to recent legislation within our fine US Congress, laws to help restrict the sale of products containing Pseudoephedrine were incorporated into the not-so-aptly named 'Patriot Act'. As a result, most manufacturers have reformulated their cold medicines to replace the Pseudoephedrine with another less-easy-to-turn-to-meth alternative called Phenylepherine (also in a much smaller dose). This is the ingredient now found in DayQuil among others. I'm all for getting rid of bad drugs if there's a reasonable substitute, the problem is, Phenylepherine doesn't work! Several studies have shown Phenylepherine to be no more effective than a placebo at alleviating sinus congestion. WELL THAT'S JUST WONDERFUL! I might as well swallow a sugar cube when I have a stuffy nose... probably tastes a lot better.
As a result, yesterday I made a stop at the local Rite-Aid to look more closely at the cold medicine shelf. Looking at the boxes, most of the easy-to-find stuff is all using the new Phenylepherine. If you look hard enough though, for example, I found that there is another version of DayQuil called "DayQuil Sinus" (seems redundant to me), but infact, it's essentially the same as the regular DayQuil, but instead contains the ill-fated Pseudoephedrine. WAHOO! So I grab a box and take it to the register. Not so fast. The forementioned Patriot Act now mandates that ALL sales of products containing Pseudoephedrine require the purchaser be logged and limited on how much they can buy. As a result, it takes me 5 minutes while the kind, yet slow and not very computer-literate, cashier basically takes all the information off of my driver's license and enters it into the register. It's easier to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels than a bottle of DayQuil! However, I made it out with relative ease. Took the DayQuil Sinus and within 20 minutes, the runny nose was gone and I could breathe free and clear.
The moral of the story: KNOW what you're buying! Ask for the Pseudoephedrine by name! Know the differences! It's worth the extra trouble, especially when you're sick and the difference is between feeling better and being miserable.