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Cold and flu medicine becoming more difficult to find

Stores all over San Diego County have empty shelves.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — If you're having trouble finding cold and flu medicine, you're not alone.

Store shelves across the country, including in San Diego, are close to empty as demand continues to rise.

CBS 8’s Shannon Handy visited several stores on Wednesday and each one was out of certain cold and flu medications.

While you can find some, it may not be the exact remedy you want.

So, what's causing these empty store shelves? For starters, there's a supply chain issue, which has impacted products all across the board. 

But, specifically, when it comes to cold and flu medicine, more and more people are getting sick.

"What I'm seeing in the office is a lot of minor viral illnesses, so everybody seems to be sick right now," said Dr. Joel Warsh, a pediatrician based in Los Angeles.

Dr. Warsh says this year's cold and flu season is shaping up to be worse than last year's, when there were more COVID restrictions in place.

On top of that, more and more people are contracting COVID.

With symptoms similar for both, people are turning to the same types of medicine.

"Often, we’ll just be treating the symptoms or families will self-treat symptoms and there's a lot of overlap whether it's a cough, a headache, a sore throat," said Dr. Warsh. "So just using general flu and cold medications often is the only choice for some people, or it's the first thing they go to the store and are like, I have a sore throat or headache, what can I take?”

Dr. Warsh says if it is a mild form of COVID, cold and flu medications are fine to take.

"Usually when you're treating any virus, you're just treating the symptoms,"

If you can get them. He expects shelves will remain bare for at least the next couple of weeks.

Fortunately, you can still find many products online or consider trying natural remedies, which may be easier to get.

Pharmacies say they are doing their best to restock.

WATCH RELATED: You suddenly have a cough. Do you have omicron, a cold or the flu? (December 2021)