The Top 3 Best OTC Flu And Cold Medicines


Both the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses.

This means that antibacterial drugs have no effect. While some cases of flu have bacterial causes, these cases are by far in the minority. Cold and flu symptoms are, then, only amenable to symptomatic treatment – reducing the severity of high temperature, runny nose, headache, and cough.

There are dozens of OTC cold and flu medicines on the market, so much so, that it can be difficult to know what works best. Here, we break through the challenge and focus on three medicines that have established themselves as viable, therapeutic choices. Choosing the right medicine can make all the difference to your cold or flu.

1. Advil Cold and Sinus

Advil Cold and Sinus is an excellent first choice medicine. It contains two active ingredients, each of which works by different but complementary means. These ingredients are ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine.

Ibuprofen is a member of the NSAID class of medicines. These are anti-inflammatory drugs used to alleviate pain and reduce high temperatures. In contrast, pseudoephedrine is used as a nasal decongestant – helping you breathe easier without sinus pressure. Together, Advil Cold and Sinus serve to tackle a broad range of cold and flu-like symptoms. 

You can use Advil Cold and Sinus if your flu is present with a headache, fever, sinus pressure, nasal congestion and body aches and pains. However, children under the age of 12 are not recommended to take this medicine. Patients are recommended to take one caplet every 4-6 hours – taking no more than six caplets in a 24-hour period.


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2. DayQuil Cold and Flu

DayQuil Cold and Flu is a great alternative to Advil Cold and Sinus. Like Advil, this product has been designed to target numerous symptoms at the same time – saving you both the time, cost and effort in tackling your flu.

DayQuil Cold and Flu contains three active ingredients. These include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Phenylephrine

Acetaminophen is widely known to reduce temperature and to alleviate body aches and pains. Dextromethorphan works to suppress the effect of a cough, whereas phenylephrine is used to relieve sinus congestion. These three ingredients work together to tackle a wide range of cold and flu-like symptoms in a matter of hours.

Patients are recommended to take two caps with water every 4 hours, though no more than four doses should be administered in a 24-hour period. The medicine is not recommended for patients under the age of 12.

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3. Claritin

Sometimes, though, flu-like symptoms can be very specific. In many ways, one major symptom can prove more frustrating than three minor ones. Nasal congestion is one such example; a symptom that often becomes worse at night – disrupting your sleep and destroying your productivity the next day.

Claritin-D works to specifically target nasal congestion. It tackles nasal congestion irrespective of its cause: cold, flu or allergy. The medicine comes with two active ingredients, loratadine, and pseudoephedrine. Loratadine is an antihistamine, blocking the effects of histamine and its consequent inflammatory effects on the body. As we learned above, pseudoephedrine works primarily as a nasal decongestant.

Patients are advised to take Claritin-D when their symptoms flare up. As an antihistamine, Claritin-D is likely to cause drowsiness and fatigue as potential side effects. This is important for patients who may need to drive or operate machinery.

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