The cold virus remains one of the most common causes of illness. Flu does not have a cure, but there are over-the-counter remedies that can serve as an aid for the symptoms. These symptoms are typically body pain and fever accompanied by the flu or cold’s running or stuffy nose and cough.


The common practice of medicating with antibiotics for viral infections should be avoided, because colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Since antibiotics have no effect on these types of viruses, they cannot make the physical symptoms go away.

Body pain and fever

Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil®), aspirin, naproxen, and acetaminophen are sometimes recommended when treating colds and flu. Ibuprofen is only recommend at dosages that do not exceed four grams a day in patients without liver issues. Aspirin should be avoided at all costs due to the risk of Reye syndrome.

Running nose

Benadryl, which is a medication often used for a running nose due to cold or flu has the side effect of someone getting extremely drowsy. One should not drive, operate machinery, or perform any complex tasks when taking this medication.

Stuffy nose

While some patients with cold and flu have a stuffy nose, others are suffering from a runny nose. When decongestants and expectorants are added into the situation, the problem becomes more manageable. Robitussin®, Mucinex®, Mucofen®, and Humibid E® are four common over-the-counter medications used as remedies for colds and flu.


When struggling to sleep with a cough and sore throat, dextromethorphan is an excellent anti-tussive that can help break the coughing spell.

Sore throats

Over-the-counter remedies such as Cepacol® can help ease discomfort caused by a sore throat. Medicated lozenges relieve pain, but you may also employ saltwater gargles and hot drinks to tackle the issue.

Combination OTC medication

Some over the counter remedies for cold and flu can worsen existing health issues. Read warning labels carefully to find the best brand for your symptoms. If you are already taking other medication, consult with a pharmacist first to ensure that it is safe to use these OTC drugs alongside of your prescriptions.