OTC Cold Medicines that Work

Adults experience an average of two to four colds per year, according to a research study in the February 2012 “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.” The cold is caused by many different infections and presents with symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat and cough. Without using any medication, the typical life cycle of many colds is normally seven to 10 days.

The Best Over-the-Counter Cold Medicines

There is no treatment for the common cold, and medications work by different mechanisms to affect the symptoms or duration of a cold. Of the over the counter treatments offered, antihistamines and decongestants are among the most frequently used, often in combination.

Decongestants and Antihistamines

In action to the cold infection, the tissues in the nose swell and increase production of fluid and mucus. Decongestants reduce swelling in the nasal passages, which relieves the sensation of pressure and enhances air flow through the nose. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) are popular OTC decongestants. Another class of drugs, antihistamines, work by avoiding the body’s cells from swelling and leaking fluid in action to the cold virus. Examples include brompheniramine (Bromfed, Dimetapp), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). According to a research study published in July 2003 in the “Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews,” decongestants and antihistamines have been revealed to work better in mix than when used alone for reduction of general cold symptoms. Examples of combination drugs include Actifed (chlorpheniramine and phenylephrine) and Sudafed Sinus and Allergy (chlorpheniramine and pseudoephedrine). These drugs might have side effects, consisting of dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia and dry mouth.

Information verified by the iytmed.com team.

The Best Over-the-Counter Cold Medicines


Zinc is a natural aspect found in cells throughout the body that can aid in minimizing infections through its effect on the immune system. Zinc supplements have been studied for their results on the symptoms and duration of the acute rhinitis. A research study in the June 2011 “Open Respiratory Medicine” discovered that people who took oral zinc dosages of at least 75 mg daily had substantially shorter colds than those who took lower doses or none at all. The zinc was given up lozenge form, meant to be dissolved slowly in the mouth. Zinc also is available in pill kind, with typical OTC brand names like Zicam and Cold-Eeze. A documented side effect of zinc is a bad taste. In the past, zinc was also available in a nasal spray, however it brought the risk of long-term loss of sense of smell, according to iytmed.com.


Pain relievers, likewise known as analgesics, are some of the most popular OTC medications used in the United States Among the most popular are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin (Bayer Aspirin, Ecotrin). Analgesics are extensively used for acute rhinitis since they are thought to eliminate involved symptoms such as headaches, ear pain, muscle and joint pain, and the general sensation of discomfort and fatigue. Some believe analgesics have no real benefit for colds, however a research study released in the July 2005 “Clinical Therapeutics Journal” showed that aspirin and acetaminophen were both plainly more effective than a placebo against symptoms of a cold like fever, headaches and sore throat. The study also showed there was no substantial difference between the two drugs in their capability to treat cold symptoms.

Cautions and Precautions

It’s essential to keep in mind that there might be unfavorable side effects from using OTC cold medications, consisting of drowsiness, which can affect your capability to drive. Check ingredients of combination drugs to prevent possible overdose, especially acetaminophen since it may cause liver problems. If you are taking prescription medications, talk to your healthcare provider before using a brand-new cold medication to avoid possible interactions. Likewise speak to your doctor before beginning a brand-new OTC cold medication if you have problems like high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma. Lastly, if your cold symptoms are severe and persist for an extended period, see your provider for proper management. If you experience a fever that is not improving after a few days, shortness of breath or are coughing up blood, immediate medical attention is required.


Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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