6 Over-the-Counter Medicines to Treat Mild Coronavirus Symptoms, According to Medical Experts
Common OTC medicines like fever reducers, decongestants, and expectorants can help treat mild symptoms. Here are 6 still available to buy online.
It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought with it a lot of confusion and questions about the mechanism of the virus, like how it’s spread, who it affects, what the symptoms are, and—perhaps most importantly—how to treat it. While there is currently no vaccine or cure for it, the good news is that medical experts say many cases can be treated from the comfort of your home similar to how you’d handle the common cold or flu.
“Most people with coronavirus have a mild illness and will recover on their own,” Edward Fisher, MD PhD, a preventive cardiologist at NYU Langone, tells Health. “Often, their illness will feel like a common cold, and can be treated the same way as that with over-the-counter medications.”
Stephanie Hopkins, a Nurse Practitioner at NYU Langone, agrees that most healthy individuals can manage their symptoms at home. “Over-the-counter medications won’t shorten the length of the illness but may be helpful for mild upper respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat; and nasal and sinus congestion,” she said, adding that it’s also a good idea to contact your healthcare provider for individual advice.
Dr. Fisher recommends looking for cold medicine that contains acetaminophen to reduce minor fever and aches, a decongestant to minimize nasal pressure, and throat lozenges for irritation. Hopkins notes that it’s suggested to use acetaminophen (like Tylenol) instead of Ibuprofen (like Advil) as a fever reducer in suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases. “If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your health care provider before using these medicines, “ she adds.
According to Hopkins, other over-the-counter medicines that can help alleviate symptoms include cough expectorants like Mucinex or the generic version for the ingredient guaifenesin, cough suppressants like dextromethorphan or Robitussin, and decongestants like Sudafed or pseudoephedrine—though anyone with high blood pressure, glaucoma, or thyroid conditions should avoid decongestants.
Dr. Fisher and Hopkins stress that if your symptoms worsen or become severe—for example, if you have a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (for adults) or difficulty breathing—you need to call your doctor or get medical help immediately.
With this input in mind, we found 6 over-the-counter medicines that are still available to buy online and be shipped right to your door in about a week. Below, shop these expert-recommended OTC picks—including pain relievers, fever reducers, cough suppressants, throat lozenges, and expectorants—so you can treat your mild symptoms and be on your way to feeling like yourself again.
Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets
Both medical experts recommended acetaminophen for relieving aches, pain, and fevers commonly associated with COVID-19. Tylenol is the most well-known form of acetaminophen, and these extra strength caplets for adults each contain 500 milligrams of the active ingredient for up to 6 hours of relief. The 24-count bottle is still available to order online.
Available at walgreens.com, $5
Mucinex Maximum Strength Expectorant Tablets
Guaifenesin, often known by the brand name Mucinex, is an expectorant that can help thin phlegm and treat chest congestion from upper respiratory viruses. These extended-release tablets each include 1,200 milligrams of guaifenesin for up to 12 hours of relief so you can breathe easier. You can also opt for a 100-pill value pack of the generic version of extended-release guaifenesin that ends up being cheaper.
Available at walgreens.com, $32
Walgreens Wal-Phed PE Non-Drowsy Nasal Decongestant Tablets
Hopkins recommends using Sudafed to relieve nasal congestion that can result from COVID-19, the common cold, or the flu. This non-drowsy, maximum-strength option from Walgreens is the generic equivalent to Sudafed—it contains 10 milligrams of phenylephrine to minimize nasal swelling, resulting in less sinus pressure and pain. These tablets use phenylephrine for its decongestant benefits, but you can also opt for a medication with pseudoephedrine, which requires you to show identification and pick it up behind the pharmacy counter (no doctor’s prescription needed).
Available at walgreens.com, $8
Mucinex Sinus-Max Severe Congestion Relief
For a combination drug that can reduce multiple symptoms, try Mucinex's Severe Congestion Relief caplets for adults. Using maximum strength doses of acetaminophen, guaifenesin, and phenylephrine, the non-drowsy medicine acts as a pain reliever, fever reducer, expectorant, and nasal decongestant in one, so you can treat a host of symptoms simultaneously and feel better faster.
Available at walgreens.com, $15
Mucinex Sinus-Max Day and Night Caplets
Another option from Mucinex, this multi-symptom pack comes with 10 maximum-strength capsules for daytime relief and 10 for night. The non-drowsy day pill contains 3 doctor-recommended ingredients to treat coronavirus symptoms—acetaminophen, guaifenesin, and a decongestant—while the night pill uses an antihistamine instead of a cough expectorant to help you sleep.
Available at walgreens.com, $15
Chloraseptic Sore Throat Lozenges
Dr. Fisher recommends lozenges to help soothe irritation from a sore throat or cough, and we like this fast-acting option from Chloraseptic. The cherry-flavored lozenges use benzocaine and menthol to numb the throat slightly to minimize pain and soreness. Available in an 18-pack for just under $6, they’re easy to pop in your mouth for quick relief no matter where you are.
Available at walgreens.com, $6
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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