The 8 Best OTC Flu Meds to Buy in 2018

Ease symptoms with these top-rated picks

You already know this, but we’ll say it again for good measure: The best way to stay healthy when the flu virus is going around is to get the flu vaccine. But if you’re already feeling under-the-weather or you still got sick, medication may help. While the drugs don’t necessarily help you fight the flu any faster, they can relieve fever, body aches, and more.

Pro tip: Replenish your medicine cabinet with flu medication now so that you don’t have to rush out to the pharmacy if you or a family member falls ill—isn’t that the last thing you want to do when you have a fever? It is also best to buy an OTC flu medicine that targets the symptoms you specifically have. If you’re wondering what to stock it with, read on to learn about some of most effective OTC flu meds available.

Best Overall: Nyquil and Dayquil SEVERE Caplets

The flu doesn’t take nights off. That’s why this Nyquil and Dayquil SEVERE combo pack is a must-have. Both products contain ingredients that target pain and fever as well as a cough suppressant, but they go beyond that to take care of other symptoms.

The Dayquil capsules contain an expectorant, which loosens up mucus to make coughs more productive. It’s also non-drowsy, so you won’t have to worry about nodding off in the middle of the workday. Then in the evening, take the Nyquil capsules. They contain a decongestant to ensure that a stuffed up nose doesn’t get in the way of your sleep.

Reviewers say that this SEVERE version of Nyquil and Dayquil is more effective than the regular versions, and one person calls the combo her “go-to” during cold and flu season. The product is safe for adults and children ages 12 and up (ask a doctor before giving to younger kids).

Best for Fevers: Genexa Flu Fix

A fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is one of the symptoms that separates the flu from the common cold. If you’re feeling warm, reach for Genexa Flu Fix. The organic chewable tablets treat fevers as well as a number of symptoms, including headache, body ache, congestion, sore throat and coughing. The non-habit forming formula is safe, non-drowsy and made from non-GMO ingredients. Another reason to feel good about your purchase: Genexa donates to charities that focus on kids’ health and clean water.

People who have used Genexa say that it acts quickly on fevers. They also mention that the chewable tablets have a nice flavor, which makes giving the medication to children much easier.

Best Dissolvable: Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Relief Medicine

For those who don’t like taking pills and can’t stomach the taste of other flu medications, Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Relief is worth a try. Dissolve the powder in hot water for a warm, soothing drink that fights multiple flu symptoms, including sore throat, headache, congestion, and body aches.

The product comes with both an a.m. and p.m. formula: The non-drowsy multi-symptom medication is for daytime (green tea and honey lemon flavors) and there’s a cold and cough medication for nighttime (honey lemon, chamomile, and white tea flavors).

Reviewers say that Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Relief is their go-to cold medicine and that it takes away nighttime flu symptoms quickly so that it’s easier to breathe and fall asleep. Some people also say that it does wonders on allergy-related symptoms, so it's a smart pick to always have in your medicine cabinet.

Best Liquid: GoodSense Nighttime Cold and Flu Relief

Sip your way to feeling better with GoodSense Nighttime Cold and Flu Relief. The cherry-flavored liquid medication contains acetaminophen to ease pain and fever, a cough suppressant to stop hacking and an antihistamine to prevent sneezing and runny nose. Better yet, the product has an extremely reasonable price point.

People who use GoodSense Nighttime Cold and Flu Relief say that it works just as well as big name brands—but at half the price. Many also say that as a bonus, the medication helps them sleep better when they are sick, which is half of the battle.

Best Homeopathic: Boiron Oscillococcinum

For people who prefer a more natural approach to treating the flu, try Boiron Oscillococcinum. The pellets work naturally with your body to temporarily relieve flu symptoms and have been clinically shown to reduce the duration and severity of the flu. Act fast: The medication works best when taken at the first sign of symptoms.

The pellets are easy to take and completely safe for children ages 2 and up. Simply place them under the tongue and let them dissolve—no water, chewing, or swallowing required.

People who use Boiron Oscillococcinum swear by it for a speedy recovery from the flu. One reviewer says that her symptoms were gone in two days, and another person who describes the product as “magic” says that she only missed two days of work when she came down with the flu. 

Best for Kids: Hyland’s 4Kids Complete Cold and Flu Relief Tablets

Seeing your little one suffer from the flu is difficult for any parent. Help your tot feel better ASAP. with Hyland 4Kids Complete Cold and Flu Relief. The quick-dissolving tablets are safe for ages 2 and up, but as with any drug, it’s important to carefully read and follow label instructions when giving a dose to children and please consult your pediatrician. Parents will like that the homeopathic formula provides natural relief for fever, headache, body aches, and chills.

Parents who use Hyland 4Kids Complete Cold and Flu Relief say that it helps their children recover from the flu faster and get back to school within just a few days. One reviewer says that although her kids refuse any other medication, they’ll happily take the Hyland’s tablets.

Best for the Whole Family: Sambucol Black Elderberry Cold & Flu Relief

Finally—something that both you and your kids will happily take. Sambucol Cold & Flu Relief is a homeopathic medicine safe for ages 4 and up. The quick-dissolving tablets relieve congestion, sore throat, coughing, and more, and are made from black elderberry, which supports the immune system. Like other homeopathic flu meds, it’s best to take Sambucol at the first sign of cold and flu symptoms.

Reviewers say that Sambucol Cold & Flu Relief works just as well for them as it does for their children. Many people agree that it prevents them from getting sick altogether, and others say that if they do come down with the flu, the tablets help to shorten the duration and severity of the illness.

Best Nighttime: Wellness Basics Multi-Symptom Nighttime Relief Softgel

If you can power through the daytime hours with the flu but really struggle at nighttime, you might want to look for a formula that will help you get some serious shut-eye at night.

This budget-brand from Amazon provides you with flu-symptom relief all while helping you nod off and stay asleep till morning. This product is comparable to the more expensive NyQuil PM, so it will provide you with the same benefits at a lower price-point. 

Reviewers remark that these work just as well as NyQuil, though some say they might have taken a little longer to kick in. They are easy to swallow and relieved most people's symptoms effectively. 

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