The Best Drugstore Cold and Flu Remedies
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.
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.