The 8 Best Cold Medicines to Buy in 2018

Stay comfortable when sickness strikes

Achoo! When the common cold hits, its symptoms can range from mildly annoying to those that can sideline for you from daily activities. And hit it does. According to the CDC, the average American adult gets two to three colds per year, with children getting even more. While there’s no cure for the common cold, fortunately there are over-the-counter cold medications that can provide relief from symptoms.

No two colds are the same, though, and different medications do a better job treating various symptoms. Drugstore shelves are packed full of a variety of formulas that promise relief, but knowing which one works best is key. Here are the best over-the-counter cold medicines that can help you kick your cold symptoms to the curb.


Best Overall: Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Green Tea & Honey Lemon

When it comes to doctors’ orders for treating a cold, getting in plenty of liquids is at the top of the list. Theraflu helps check that box, as each packet of this cold-treating formula is to be mixed with 8 ounces of warm water. It makes a soothing sort of tea that feels good going down and promises to help relieve most symptoms associated with a cold, including nasal congestion, sore throat, and coughing. It also contains acetaminophen to help take down fevers and relieve aches and pains.

This box comes with six packets for daytime use and six for nighttime that will help you get the sleep you need. If you prefer caplets or a syrup, Theraflu makes those formulas too in both daytime and nighttime versions. Customers say Theraflu works fast, tastes great and is their go-to medicine for cold and flu symptoms.


Best for a Head Cold: Tylenol Cold + Head Congestion Severe

When your head feels several sizes too big with the pressure of a head cold, relief can’t come quickly enough. Tylenol Cold + Head is designed to deliver just that.

Recommended for adults and children 12 and older, these caplets promise to clear out congestion, and it contains acetaminophen to provide relief from aches and pains, including sore throats and headaches. This formula also contains guaifenesin, an ingredient to make coughs more productive (helping to clear mucous and phlegm). Customers say it works well quickly and leaves them clear-headed without feeling drowsy.


Best for a Runny Nose: Genexa Multi-Symptom Cold Relief

A runny nose is arguably one of the most irksome parts of a cold. That constant drip and the blowing and the tissues… sometimes it feels like it will never stop. The good news is that eventually it will, and with Genexa it may stop sooner rather than later. The only certified organic cold medicine on the market, this homeopathic formula is designed to provide relief from a host of common cold symptoms in addition to the dreaded runny nose.

These chewable tablets are all-natural and won’t make you drowsy. They also come with a 100 percent guarantee, so if they don’t work for you, you can get your money back. Customers rave about this cold medicine. They say the tablets taste good, work surprisingly well, and they love the natural formula.


Best Cold and Flu Medicine: Sambucol Black Elderberry Cold & Flu Relief Tablets

It’s not the most well-known name on the drugstore shelf, but customers say Sambucol stands out for its effectiveness. It contains elderberry, which is known for its natural ability to alleviate symptoms associated with colds and flus, and it’s designed to be taken at the first sign of symptoms.

The quick dissolve tablets can be used for most members of the family (recommended for ages 4 and up), and you don’t need any water to take them, so they’re great for on-the-go relief. Customers swear by these tablets, saying they taste good, work remarkably well and are a must-have to have on hand year round. “The closest thing to a cure for the common cold,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon.


Best Sinus Cold: Mucinex Sinus-Max Pressure and Pain Caplets

When a cold attacks your sinuses, it’s a war you want to win STAT. With Mucinex Sinus-Max in your corner, you’re likely to do just that. The triple-action formula includes a combination of acetaminophen to fight fever, pains, aches, and fever; Guaifenesin, an expectorant to make your cough more productive; and Phenylephrine, a nasal decongestant. So, it’s coming at your symptoms from every angle with a single dose.

Sinus sufferers highly recommend this formula for a fast-acting relief of symptoms. Mucinex also has other formulas that you can tailor these more to your cold and flu needs. 


Best Daytime: Vicks DayQuil Cough Cold and Flu Relief

When a cold hits hard, it would be great if we could all just crawl into bed until we feel better, but that’s not always the case as we must tend to family, work, school, and other responsibilities. DayQuil helps you feel better without leaving you feeling drowsy, so you can keep going. These LiquiCaps are designed to help relieve six common cold symptoms—nasal congestion, sore throat, minor aches and pains, cough, headaches, and fever. Each dose (two capsules) provides about four hours of relief.

Dayquil (which is also available in a liquid), which is made by Vick’s, the number one selling cough and cold brand around the world, is a long-time, trusted brand for many. Customers say it clears symptoms up quickly and leave them clear-headed and full of energy to tackle the day at hand. Take that, cold.


Best Nighttime: Vicks NyQuil Cough Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief

When the day is done, and it’s finally time to crawl into bed, the last thing you want is to be up all night coughing, blowing your nose and being otherwise miserable. NyQuil will help you get the rest you need to kick your cold as quickly as possible. It’s designed to provide relief from sneezing, sore throat, headache, minor aches and pains, fever, runny nose, and coughing, so you can snooze the night away, uninterrupted by them. Paired with Dayquil, it keeps you covered around the clock.

Customers say it works as promised, calling it a “medicine cabinet must-have” and saying it lets them “sleep like a baby” when they’re feeling their worst.


Best for Chest Cold: Robitussin Adult Max Strength Cough+Chest Congestion DM Max

When a cold creeps into your chest, Robitussin promises to help you hit back hard. This maximum-strength formula is intended for adults and children 12 years and older and contains both a cough suppressant and an expectorant to help break up chest congestion and help it clear up more quickly.

This non-drowsy, raspberry-flavored formula is made for daytime use to help you power through what needs powering through, but Robitussin also makes a nighttime formula to help you get a good night sleep as well. Customers say it tastes good and is effective at treating congestion not only from colds but also that which comes along with allergies.

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