10 Best OTC Cold Medicines Tested & Compared

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A runner can benefit from a tried and trusted OTC medicine.

Whenever it’s winter or summer, in every season, you can easily get a cold. This is something very unpleasant that annoys especially runners as they can’t do their best. Do you know this feeling of having runny nose, sore throat and cough- this means that you’ve propably caught a cold. Many people with cold, think that the antibiotic is always a must have. It’s not true and it’s also worth to remember that antibiotics cause also have many side effects that may be really unpleasant. So what to do when you have this terrifying cold? Well, it would be great to have a medicine that will boost your immune system and help you to recover. An OTC medicine comes in handy.
OTC medications provide pain relief. And what’s most important for many runners, it helps you to perform even when you have a cold. We don’t talk here about very demanding training, rather moderate one so you don’t need to give it up. You must be aware that your body is weaker than usual so you need to take care of it well.

In many cases, OTC medicines are the medicines that help to fight the cold absolutely and there’s no need taking any antibiotics. These medicines as the name implies, are over the counter so you don’t even need to go see the doctor.
The good question is which medicine are the best? Well, there are many products on the market but we’ve choose our top 10 and we think that our list may be very useful for you.

Last Updated: May 25, 2018
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By Izabela Król:

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OHCO Cold Snap Powder
  • OHCO Cold Snap Powder
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Price: See Here
Sambucol Cold Relief Tablets
  • Sambucol Cold Relief Tablets
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Non-Drowsy
  • Price: See Here
Tylenol Cold Max Caplets
  • Tylenol Cold Max Caplets
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 325mg Acetaminophen
  • Price: See Here

10 Best OTC Cold Medicines

 

OHCO Cold Snap Powder

Topping the list is this herbal remedy, with 20 herbs derived from traditional Chinese herbal medicine. This works by protecting and strengthening the immune system, effectively empowering and allowing your body to actually fight the cold itself.
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Effectiveness
With this one, you start with a small dose and increase as you see fit, which helpfully allows you to tailor the medicine to your needs without dosage restrictions. This works best for interrupting an oncoming cold, and it’s great at doing that. If you feel the sniffles coming on, have some of this and you’re cold really shouldn’t develop in the way that it otherwise would. It works very well for most users, so it’s a great option if you want something natural and effective.

Ingredients
Among other things, this includes forsythia, ginseng and mint, with 20 natural ingredients in all. These won’t just solve your cold problems, but it's also good for your health!

Cost
A decent bargain option!
Pros
  • All natural
  • Great at stopping an oncoming cold
  • Actually improves your health and immune system, doesn’t just solve the core problem
  • A nice health supplement, if that’s your thing
Cons
  • Might not resolve a really bad cold that has already fully set in

Sambucol Cold Relief Tablets

These tasty cold relief tablets have an elderberry flavor and provide fast relief from a whole host of cold-related symptoms. They have a homeopathic formula with natural ingredients and they’re a very effective solution.
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Effectiveness
These are great at getting to work quickly and they’re another fantastic natural solution to eliminating a cold. They’re best used at the onset of symptoms, but they also provide decent relief when things get nasty. They’ll get rid of sore throats, coughs, sneezes, runny noses and more. A really effective product.

Ingredients
The ingredients here are all natural again, and the ingredients list covers a wide range of symptoms for a good fix. These include bryonia, sulphur and zinc. These also include vitamin C and dried elderberry extract.

Cost
Slightly more expensive than others on this list, but only marginally so.
Pros
  • All natural
  • Work quickly
  • Cover a wide range of symptoms
  • Nice flavor
  • Great combination of ingredients
Cons
  • Work best at the onset, rather than in the middle of, a cold

Genexa Cold Crush

This one is homeopathic, non-GMO and organic, and relieves all symptoms associated with a cold. It’s the only cold solution in the world to be certified both non-GMO and organic, so if these are concerns to you, then you’ve found your cold solution! They’re chewable and they taste good.
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Effectiveness
Again, these are fantastic. They provide immediate relief while shortening the length of the illness overall, which is a great combination. It’s not going to completely blow away your cold in one fell swoop, but nothing will – and for an organic product, it works very well.

Ingredients
Loads of active ingredients including allium cepa, belladonna and bryonia alba. Inactive ingredients include acai berry flavor and a range of natural additions.

Cost
Around average for this list.
Pros
  • The only solution certified both organic and non-GMO.
  • Really effective
  • Shortens the illness while also providing immediate relief
Cons
  • Not as well tested as others on this list

Zicam Cold Remedy Dissolving Tablets

These dissolving tablets have a tasty citrus flavor and they’re homeopathic with natural ingredients. They’re best taken at the first sign of a cold and the two active ingredients help to give your immune system a boost which helps prevent future colds.
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Effectiveness
These don’t work too well once the cold has already onset, but they’re very good otherwise. A small amount of users seem to find that these don’t work for them, but overall, they're a very good choice.

Ingredients
The two active ingredients are zincum aceticum and zincum gluconicum. Having only two active ingredients, these are a little different to the other solutions already listed here. If you’re looking for these specific ingredients, Zicam is a good choice. If you want something with more active ingredients, you might want to look elsewhere.

Cost
Another average-priced offering.
Pros
  • Nice citrus flavor
  • Homeopathic
  • Natural
  • Work best at the first sign of a cold
Cons
  • Don’t work too well once the cold has really set in
  • Only two active ingredients

Mucinex Day and Night Caplets

This works at fighting really severe symptoms, so if you’re suffering from something major, these are a great option. They have both a night and day caplet which provides double relief, and they’re perhaps the best option on the list if you’re looking to hit a heavy cold once it’s already set in.
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Effectiveness
If you want something to blast away an intense cold and an option that gives protection both day and night, you really won’t find much better than this. The night time caplets help you to sleep through your cold, and the ingredients fight a massive range of symptoms including coughs, congestion, runny nose, headaches and sore throat.

Ingredients
The main active ingredient here is acetaminophen to reduce pain, while others reduce the other symptoms of a cold. If you’re not looking for a natural remedy, this is your best option.

Cost
Marginally pricey, but well worth it.
Pros
  • Great at fighting an intense cold which has already set in
  • Relief both day and night
  • Relieves many symptoms
  • Allows for a restful sleep
Cons
  • A little pricier than other options
  • If you want something natural, these aren’t for you.

Tylenol Cold Max Multi-Symptom Relief Caplets

These help to relieve cold symptoms once they’ve already set in, so they’re another great option for when you’re in the middle of a horrible cold. They cover a range of symptoms and are drug-based, which may be good or bad depending on your taste. These have to be swallowed whole with water, and you shouldn’t take more than the recommended dose.
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Effectiveness
Being a somewhat hardcore option, they do indeed work well. They are great at battling lots of symptoms, but they are quite heavy duty, so they’re not a good option if you don’t want something too intense. They can amplify tinnitus in those who suffer from the condition, which might be of significance.

Ingredients
Active ingredients here include acetaminophen and dextromethorphan among others with many ingredients to help lighten your suffering.

Cost
A good low-cost option given their strength.
Pros
  • Work very well even in the middle of an intense cold
  • Relieve many symptom
  • A heavy duty affair
Cons
  • If you’re not looking for something intense, these might not be for you.
  • Can worsen tinnitus in sufferers from the condition

Coricidin HBP

While doing our research, we've encountered many different kinds of medicines but this one is exceptional. There are many sports people, also runners who suffer from high blood pressure. When you take medicined like OTC, your blood pressure may rise. Well, definitely not with this product. Coricidin HBP is a medicine that relieves cold symptoms and it's dedicated to people with high blood pressure. Let's see the other features of this product.
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Effectiveness
It provides very fast relief, even after first few hours, you are less likely to cough that much. Fever and headache are also less prone and in general, you feel stronger. Runners said that while taking this product, they were able to do mild training. The medicine doesn't raise the blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common problem even for runners who don't suffer from it, many medicines tend to raise the pressure.

Ingredients
There are many ingredients in this product. Although it's natural, there are some less good ingredients. One of them is for example sugar. However most of the ingredients are very healthy for your body, they help to provide the relief.

Cost
Buying this medicine is a great deal. It costs less than 10 dollars for a package. For one pill, it's about 50 cents. there are two quantity options- one package or packages, 16 capsules in each package. really attractive price.
Pros

It doesn't rise the blood pressure

Works very fast

Cons

Drowsiness may be one of the side effects


Theraflu Powder

This is another option for severe colds and coughs, so if you want an intense hit, it’s a decent choice. The powder dissolves in hot water, which in itself gives a nice relief while having a pleasant taste. The honey, lemon and camomile flavor is nice and it gets to work on symptoms that are at their worst. If you want mid-cold relief, this is for you.
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Effectiveness
Helps you to sleep which is always good, and gets to work on intense symptoms. It helps to soothe symptoms as well as actually remedying them. The drink itself is pretty comforting too. It works fast and helps with lots of symptoms. It’s not the most effective on this list, but it has plenty of good reasons to buy some!

Ingredients
Your three active ingredients are acetaminophen, diphenhydramine and phenylephrine. It tastes pretty good too!

Cost
A little pricey compared to most other option on this list, which is often the case with powdered forms of medicine.
Pros
  • Good for severe symptoms
  • Both relieves and cures
  • Nice flavor
  • The drink itself is quite comforting.
  • Good in particular at fighting congestion
Cons
  • A little pricey
  • Not as popular as some other options here

EZC Pak

We know that antibiotics do both good and right things for our body. When you have a cold, there's usually no need to take antibiotics as you can easily boost your immune system with something else. The good way to help you survive is testing EZC Pak. Check out more information about this product.
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Effectiveness
This pack has a special formula and you need to take it for about 5 days to get the best results. It boosts your immune system and you can easily do mild workouts when your body fights with cold. Users said that you don't need to wait long to feel better. It helps you to feel better and you can easily exercise.

Ingredients
The Echinacea blend with vitamin C and Zinc are the main ingredients of this product. There's about 250 mg of vitamin c, this is more than 4 daily value, so this is a big amount. You can take this product with or without food. The capsules are suitable for vegetarians and there's no sugar added.

Cost
This product is a little bit more expensive, it costs around 19 dollars for 28 capsules. When you buy it for the first time, you should buy the lowest amount in case it won't work for you. However, if it works well, you can buy more packages( and the price for each capsule is lower.
Pros

There aren't GMO and gluten in this product

You feel much better within couple of hours

Easy to swallow

Cons

expensive


Vick’s DayQuil and NyQuil Severe

Here’s another one with two pills: one for daytime and one for nighttime. This multi-faceted approach helps to soothe and remedy you on various levels and also helps you to sleep away your pain. These are best used for a severe cold, and work best when you’re in the middle of your symptoms rather than at the onset.
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Effectiveness
This works very well for the majority of users, but given its intensity, you have to follow the instructions properly, being careful not to take too much. They are quite strong, and can cause dizziness and lethargy in some people, which isn’t ideal for a run. However, this is only the case on some occasions. They’re very good at blasting away intense symptoms.

Ingredients
Quite a lot of active and inactive ingredients for a powerful hit, but with some drowsiness. The main ingredient here is acetaminophen.

Cost
These are around an average price for this list.
Pros
  • Works on an intense cold that’s already set in
  • Helps you to sleep, which is both comforting and useful
  • Good multi-faceted approach
  • Good if you want a hard-hitting solution
Cons
  • Can cause drowsiness and other side effects
  • Be careful to take these as instructed!

There are your top ten options! It’s time to fight your cold, and get back to pounding the tarmac and performing at your best. There’s plenty here to nurse you back to health and enjoying your runs again. Breathe deep and run on!


 

Criteria Used To Select The Best  OTC Medicine

Medicine or Drugs that is not given by the doctor or the physician in our hospitals but given at our local shops or chemists can be termed as Over The Counter Medicines (OTC). These Medicines may be found in our local markets or/and shops. Over the counter, drugs are also known as non-prescription medicine.Almost every household around the world has at least a cabinet or a safe place for keeping OTC medicines.

These medicines come in handy during smaller emergencies that may be handled, maintained and managed to normal levels before visiting the hospital or calling 911.These OTC drugs help users to be in control of the effects of the immediate external and internal environment on their bodies and ensure effective immune systems. These OTC drugs have a direction of usage printed on the cover of the medicine or drug itself or otherwise as prescribed by the physician.These drugs can save an athlete who has developed a cold and cannot get to the hospital in time.

Type of Allergy

People react differently to different drugs. This may be due to the composition of the ingredients within the medicine or the effect the medicine may have or may not have on the users. Also, note that some users may have an allergic reaction to some components that may be part of/or an ingredient(s) to the composition of the drug or medicine. It is, therefore, very important for the buyer or user to check and confirm on the labels what constitutes the medicine.

Antihistamine pills will function normally in most allergy symptoms and also prevent itching of the users’ body. These pills can have a sleepy or less sleep effect after usage.Not only allergies but other health issues should be looked into in depth before purchasing an Over the Counter medicine. It is only by understanding our bodies well, with the help of professionals, will we be able to make the right choices for them, our bodies, when it comes to non-prescribed drugs.

Side Effects

Side effects can be described as how a users’ body reacts to the medicine he or she has taken. The negative and unexpected reactions are normally, mostly believed to be the side effects. The effects of after use of a medicine to the user of over the counter medicines should, therefore, be a matter of consideration. When the composition of a non-prescribed drug contains a harmful substance to your body’s immune, it is advisable that you look for an alternative or keep away from such medicines. Side effects may be fatal and especially those caused by over the counter drugs.

Period of use/Time

Users should be having over the counter medicines after having it prescribed and allowed for use by their medical professional or physician. Prolonged usage of over the counter medicine may, in the long run, have serious effects on the immune system of the body. Since they are non-prescribed, a user may end up abusing such medicines and that may cause a fatality.Such medicines should be taken with the correct dosage because they will be consumed for a longer period of time, thus, it should not end up in drug abuse.

Effectiveness/Function

When going to buy any medicine you need to know how well can it function, how long will it take for you to not any changes, this will also depend on your immune system some have a weak one while other have a strong one, for weak immune systems you will need a much stronger medicine to work and for one who has a stronger immune system it doesn’t take long for the body to fight for itself so you will only need a little boost with the medicines. Some cold drugs are effective while others tend to take time to start functioning and for one to notice great changes. Ensure you tell the physician that while buying the medicine over the counter.

Cost

Well, let’s face it in most cases the medicine we buy over the counter is often less costly as the ones we pick from the hospital, this is one of the reasons if not the major reason we buy over the counter. Getting the right medicine for a less amount of money that you would have spent in the hospital is one of the great things any sick person looks forward to, as it helps save a lot in the end but make sure you do not get fake drugs instead which might cause you more problems than you already have.

 

Other Important Things Worth Considering

Over the counter, drugs can be a good thing and bad this will depend on the intentions of buying the said drugs. There are factors that need to be considered when making the purchase and Since Over the Counter (OTC) drugs are not really prescribed by a doctor, one may need some vital information about such medicines in order to have them at home, make sure you buy them for all the good reasons since abusing them can cause fatal injuries to the body system, below are some of the added reasons to help you get the right drugs.

Ingredients

You need to know what your system responds to and what it doesn’t that means when going to get medicine over the counter you can tell which percentage of whatever element can favor you and which one cannot. Remember if you react to certain elements you need to make it known that even a small percentage of that should not be given as this can bring about worse effects on your system. You need to know each and every substance that will be present in the medicine you are taking the whole composition.

Ailment

You need to know what is the real reason for the cold it might be more than just the cold and you can go get medicine that might not work at all or worst case make you worse. You need to know that over the counter there is no room for mistakes as they do not test to know what exactly might be the cause if your cold, especially if you are a runner getting a cold might not be frequent occurrence however that doesn’t mean it cannot happen it can, but you need to be very careful when going for a cold medicine over the counter as this might interfere with your running schedule if abused.

Direction for use

These are set of rules to follow when taking any drug, most cases they are written down. Even after you have purchased the drug you need to adhere to the directions set for taking the drugs as that is when the drug can be effective, avoid underdose or overdose as these may come with very bad results, might affect your recovery process and as an athlete you need to be on your toes sooner than later. Always be aware of the time difference in taking the drugs as you are given that for a reason and you need to pay great attention to that as it might be your ticket to feeling and getting better soon. Paying great attention to the instructions in place can help a great deal.

 

FAQ

Our mission is to always be the best to give you all the information you need to enable you to use any product, in this research we were able to deal with the OTC drugs that are best and effective for use.after giving the information that is relevant we close by listing down some of the questions that we came across in our research that we are sure can be of help and can help you understand the topic in question.Feel free to send us any question through our email and we would be glad to help where possible. Below are some of the questions and their answers.

Q: Are OTC medicine found in all medicine stores?

A: Not really there are some drug stores that are so strict and do not allow to sell drugs unless you have a prescription, so go to one that can give you the drugs you need without prescription but these should not be a problem as you can get some stores that are willing to sell you the drugs.

Q: Is it okay to stop taking the medicine as soon as I see change?

A: Well this is one of the things that most people do once you feel the cold leave you think you are all good and you dispose of the drugs,well this can result to effects like going for a stronger medicine the next time you have the same ailment as the one you didn’t finish will not be strong enough to work on your sickness again.

Q: Are OTC medicine more expensive than the prescribed ones?

A: In most cases, the OTC medicine are often lower priced than the ones you get in the hospitals after going through numerous tests.you will spend a lot in the hospital to treat the same ailment you could have treated when you buy it without prescription.

Q: Are OTC medicine better than the prescribed ones?

A: No and Yes,you will get the same kind of medicine form the hospital as the one over the counter the difference can be the coat and time.getting one from the hospital will be costly and sometimes will take you time to get but the one over the counter is a one time thing no waiting in line for results to know which drug to get.Just do not overdose the one from over the counter.

Q:   If I have a really bad cold can I up the dosage of the OTC to help me feel ok to run?

A:  Though these are not drugs prescribed by a doctor but available over the counter through self-diagnosis there are still important rules to follow. Each OTC package will come with important guidelines on dosage amounts and how often it can be taken and these should be closely followed. It is not worth taking more than the prescribed amount and apart from risking your health from taking too much you also would not gain extra relief but very likely slow yourself down due to adverse amounts of medication. OTC medications give relief through masking symptoms, too much masking would likely have a sedative type of effect and slow a person rather than give them a balanced feeling.


 

Take a look at some of the sources we used:

Sources

  1. Web MD, How to Choose Over-the-Counter Cold and Flu Meds, Health and Drugs.,
  2. Amanda Gardner, 20 Over-the-Counter Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, Health, Jan 26, 2016
  3. LILA BATTIS, 17 Best Over-the-Counter Meds, Health and medicine, Jan 11, 2013
  4. C. Fookes, Over the Counter Cold Remedies: Which One is Right For You?, Drugs, Aug 07, 2017
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