Cold & Flu Prevention Center

How to Pick an Over-the-Counter Cold Remedy

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Common cold medications

By Ashlee Davis

When you have a cold, it can be hard to sort through the dizzying array of over-the-counter cold medications.

But many cold medications contain just a few types of drugs. The key is to check the list of ingredients and match the right drug to your symptoms.

“Assess what’s bothering you the most, and then target the medication that’s appropriate for the symptom,” says William J. Hueston, MD, professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. “Make sure you understand what the medicine is for before you buy it.”

Here’s a guide to over-the-counter cold medications for adults (not kids!).

Next: NSAIDs