Cough, Cold and Allergy

Battling allergy, flu, or cold symptoms, such as a nasty cough? Below are various categories of products that may help. Click on a product category link to see which products pharmacists recommend most often. Learn more about our Top Recommended Health Products.

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Cough Suppressants

Cough suppressants block—or suppress—the cough reflex. Generally, coughing is a healthy way to clear the airways of mucus, so cough suppressants should only be used for dry, hacking coughs. If you think you need to thin your mucus to more easily expel it, look into expectorants.

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Decongestants—Oral

Stuffy nose? There are several reasons why you may be congested, but most likely, you’re feeling the symptoms of the common cold, flu or a sinus infection. (Think it might be allergies? Check out oral antihistamines.) While congestion may feel like there is simply too much mucus in your nose, the stuffed sensation is usually due to inflamed blood vessels, which swell the tissue lining.

According to MedlinePlus, a website of the National Institutes of Health, nasal congestion often disappears by itself within a week. But that can seem like a lifetime when you spend restless nights tossing, unable to breathe. You’ve got a couple options in terms of at-home treatment. The simplest? Keep your head elevated. You’ll feel most stuffed when you’re laying down, so when you hit the hay, throw a few extra pillows under your head. And while advice to drink plenty of fluids certainly isn’t revolutionary, it’s preached because it works. Load up on the classics: tea, broth and, of course, soup. You may also consider investing in a humidifier for your home.

Over-the-counter products may also bring relief to your congestion, typically by narrowing blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the nasal passage. Oral decongestants, like the products below, come in pill form, while other products can be applied directly inside nostrils. (Those products are listed here.) In the annual Pharmacy Times survey, nearly 300 pharmacists nationwide were asked which oral decongestants they recommend to consumers most often. The list of medicines below reflect the percentage of these pharmacists that recommend each brand. Read more about the survey and results here. These lists are just one tool in your box to choose a decongestant and rid your stuffy nose. When in doubt, ask a pharmacist or doctor.

Do you feel so bad you think you need to pay a visit to the doctor? The NIH website lists these other symptoms, in addition to your stuffy nose, which warrant a visit: face swelling, blurred vision, increased throat pain, spotted tonsils or throat, or continual coughing fits – especially those that produce yellow-green or gray mucus. See a doctor if your congested nose lasts more than a couple weeks. Try to keep track of your symptoms and when they started – two facts your doctor will likely want to know when diagnosing your illness.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Reviewed by Pharmacy Times

These other U.S. News pages may interest you:

A Survival Guide to Spring Allergy Season

Flu vs. the Common Cold: Symptoms and Treatment

Top Recommended Cold Remedies

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