Best Cold Medicine: Top 5 Products For Relieving Flu-Like Symptoms, According To Experts

According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of people get a common cold each year. While there is no cure, there are plenty of meds to make the symptoms less miserable. But with numerous pharmaceutical companies and tons of cold and flu products on the shelves, which do you choose? When you’re looking for the best cold medicine, it can be hard to determine where to start. 

Between the runny nose, sneezing and coughing, there aren’t many positive aspects of catching a cold. However, one upside is that dealing with a cold generally prevents people from developing worse illnesses, such as the flu or a serious case of COVID! In fact, Yale University researchers say exposure to the rhinovirus, one of the most frequent causes of the common cold, can trigger the immune responses patients need to defend against COVID-19 before an infection spreads. 

In addition to this natural immunity that happens if you by chance catch a cold, another way to boost your immune system is by supplementing. A global study found vitamin D helps shield against respiratory infections, such as colds and influenza, especially in those who are deficient in it. And deficiency is quite common. Healthline reports that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem and that nearly 42 percent of Americans are deficient.

So, some of us may be subject to getting colds more often than others. After all, there’s a reason it’s called the “common” cold. But you can certainly help alleviate your symptoms while it runs its course. And to help you choose which is the best cold medicine for your set of ailments, we searched 11 websites to find the top five products most recommended by medical experts. 

The List: Best Cold Medicines

 1. Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil 

Vicks provides round-the-clock care with its DayQuil and NyQuil duo. That’s why the Miami Herald says, “Our first pick is … Vicks DayQuil & NyQuil LiquiCaps. [No] matter what time of day it is, you can find relief from your symptoms. Each of these cold and flu medicine capsules has acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine as active ingredients that work to suppress coughs, fevers, nasal congestion, sore throats, and headaches. The DayQuil capsules have a non-drowsy formula so you don’t feel sleepy after taking one, while the NyQuil capsules, on the other hand, offer nighttime symptom relief for a peaceful sleep.”

CherryPicks recommends the honey version of Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil, calling it a “great-tasting, honey-licious flavor” that’s made to “coat your throat and also help to soothe soreness and irritation.” It also “relieves cough, headache, fever, sore throat, minor aches and pains, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, fever, sneezing and runny nose.”

And if you’re congested, Greatist advises to check the ingredients: “When you’re looking at something like a DayQuil or a pill that contains multiple ingredients for cold and flu symptoms, look for the active ingredient phenylephrine for nasal congestion and guaifenesin for chest congestion (both FDA-approved).”

2. Tylenol Cold Max Daytime

CPOE Wellness Clinic suggests taking Tylenol Cold when you’re under the weather: “It is powerful cold relief, but it will not saddle you with drowsiness in the middle of the day. It does a good job alleviating the pain and discomfort of serious colds. It is also effective at providing short-term relief from nasal congestion. And it is quite affordable.” rates Tylenol Cold highly for daytime use: “Tylenol Cold Daytime is good to use if you have a stuffy nose, a cough, fever, and pain. The decongestant (phenylephrine) has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine. It doesn’t raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep. The pain reliever (acetaminophen) is easier on your stomach and has fewer drug interactions than other pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.”

3. Mucinex 12 Hour Extended Release Chest Congestion Tablets

Best Views Reviews calls Mucinex the best cold and flu medicine of 2022. Here are the highlights of the drug: “Infused with guaifenesin that reduces chest congestion and infection; features bi-layer that offers immediate result; comes in tablet form that makes it easy to consume.” 

It’s particularly helpful if you’re dealing with a lot of mucus. K Health writes, “If you want to thin out the mucus so it is easier to cough out, then an expectorant like guaifenesin (Mucinex) is your best option.” 

4. Cepacol Extra-Strength

According to U.S. News, “We’ve all had the sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and coughing of the common cold. When chicken noodle soup doesn’t cut it, [Cepacol] may help shorten the duration of your cold when combined with lots of water and rest.” Their poll reveals the No. 1 pharmacist-recommended remedy for a cold is Cepacol Extra-Strength throat lozenges. 

Active also suggests choosing Cepacol: “Sometimes you need fast relief from scratchiness, soreness, and discomfort in your mouth and throat — during these times, you’ll want to turn to a drop that promises powerful numbing effects to help soothe your pain. Cepacol Extra Strength cough drops are made with powerful oral pain relievers, making them a good pick not just for relieving a sore throat but also for mitigating pain caused by canker sores and other wounds inside the mouth. Though this is a slightly more expensive cough drop compared to some other options on this list, it’s a good product to have on standby for when acute oral pain sets in.” 

5. Sudafed

GoodRx Health recommends Sudafed if you’re stuffy: “For a stuffy nose … you can find oral decongestants OTC. Oral options include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE). Pseudoephedrine works the best out of the two oral options.” 

“When you’re feeling blocked up and stuffy from a cold or a sinus infection, the tissues and blood vessels of your nasal passages and sinuses swell up. Regular Sudafed relies on pseudoephedrine to narrow the swollen blood vessels in your sinuses and nasal passageways. This non-drowsy formula offers temporary relief, and adults can take two tablets every four to six hours. You will have to ask a pharmacist for regular Sudafed from behind the pharmacy counter, since pseudoephedrine is tightly regulated by the FDA,” Prevention writes.  

Have a cold? We hope you feel better soon! And if you have a cough, you can check out some expert-recommended remedies for that here.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.