The Best Drugstore Cold and Flu Remedies
Products containing Pseudoephedrine (PSE), such as Sudafed Non-Drowsy, can be used to make methamphetaimine, so they are now behind the counter, but worth asking for. Those with phenylephrine (PE) can work, but experts say their effects are not as long-lasting.
Decongestant Nasal Sprays
Decongestant nasal sprays (such as Afrin Original 12 Hour) contain a decongestant drug, such as oxymetazoline, that constricts the blood vessels in the nose to help ease drainage. They're a good choice if a saline nasal spray isn't helping you to breathe easier.
If an allergy is the root of your problem, a multisymptom product (such as Benadryl Allergy) designed to soothe a host of issues can help. Choose one that treats only the symptoms you have, since the more ingredients there are, the greater the risks of side effects and interactions.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) reduces fever, body aches, and headaches. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can also ease discomfort from different cold or flu symptoms. Aspirin can also help but may irritate the stomach, and it shouldn't be given to children.
Saline Nasal Sprays
A saline spray, such as Ocean Premium Saline Nasal Spray, can help provide comfort by moistening dry nasal passages. Nonmedicated versions, like this one, are safe enough to be used frequently, even by children.
Skip medicated drops that are said to suppress coughs (they don't work) and those that contain the numbing anesthetic benzocaine, which wears off quickly. Opt for a lozenge that contains pectin (such as Halls Fruit Breezers), a sugar that helps an irritated throat feel cooler.