10 Best OTC Cold Medicines Tested & Compared

0

You can easily catch a cold anytime of year, not just winter.   This is especially annoying for runners because it can effect and interupt our training.  Many people with a cold think that  antibiotics are the way to go.  That’s not necessarily true and it’s worth remembering that antibiotics can also have many unpleasant side effects. So what is a runner to do when you get a cold and want to stop it dead in its tracks without resorting to antibiotics?  We recommend taking an over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicine.

OTC medications provide pain relief, and most importantly for runners can help you continue training.  We don’t recommend strenous training when you have a cold, since your body is weaker than usual and and needs you to take good care of it, but these medicines can help you recover while continuing to run.

Most of the medicines on our list are designed to boost your immune system naturally, so your body actually fights off the cold on its own.  We’ve also added plenty of conventional medicines so you can make the right choice for you.

The question is, which OTC cold medicines are the best?

Last Updated: August 7, 2018
By EJ Callanan:

We have updated our list with both conventional and all natural options. We have also conducted additional research to help you learn how best to choose the medicine that's best for you, and to use it safely. One of the newest options on the list is an all organic, non-GMO option from Genexa.

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
Genexa Cold Rush
  • Genexa Cold Rush
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Organic and non-GMO
  • Price: See Here

10 Best OTC Cold Medicines

 

OHCO Cold Snap Powder

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 fight the cold itself.
Expand to see more
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, they include forsythia, ginseng, and mint, with 20 natural ingredients in all. These won’t solve just your cold problems, but will also boost your overall health!

Cost
A great bargain option!
Pros
  • All natural
  • Great at stopping an oncoming cold
  • Actually improves your health and immune system, doesn’t just solve the co
      re 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

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 are a very effective solution.
Expand to see more
Effectiveness
These are great at working quickly on your cold, and they’re another fantastic natural option. 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, and they combat 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

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.
Expand to see more
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

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.
Expand to see more
Effectiveness
These don’t work too well once the cold has already set in, 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 than 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

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.
Expand to see more
Effectiveness
If you want something to blast away an intense cold and an option that gives you protection both day and night, you really won’t find anything 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. Unless you’re looking for a natural remedy, this might be 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

Tylenol Cold Max Multi-Symptom Relief Caplets
These help to relieve cold symptoms that have already set in, so they’re another great option for when you’re in the middle of a horrible cold. They cover a wide 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.
Expand to see more
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 its' 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

Coricidin HBP
While doing our research, we encountered many different kinds of medicines but this one is exceptional. Many people, runners included, suffer from high blood pressure. Some OTC medicines could make your blood pressure 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.
Expand to see more
Effectiveness
It provides very fast relief, even in just a few hours, and is great for cough relief. 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, and many medicines tend to raise blood pressure.

Ingredients
There are many ingredients in this product. Although it's natural, there are some less good ingredients. One of them is sugar. However most of the ingredients are very healthy for your body, and 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- just one package or multiple packages, 16 capsules in each package. Again, the price is really attractive.
Pros

Doesn't make blood pressure rise

Works very fast

Cons

Drowsiness may be one of the side effects


Theraflu Powder

Theraflu Powder
This is another option for severe colds and coughs, so if you want an intense hit of medicine, 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.
Expand to see more
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 there are still 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 options 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

EZC Pak
We know that antibiotics do both bad and good 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 trying EZC Pak. Check out more information about this product.
Expand to see more
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 while your body fights off the cold. Users said that it doesn't take long to start feeling better.

Ingredients
An 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 4x the daily value. 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 doesn't work for you. However, if it works well, you can buy more packages (and the price per capsule is lower).
Pros

Non GMO and gluten free

You feel much better within a couple of hours

Easy to swallow

Cons

expensive


Vick’s DayQuil and NyQuil Severe

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.
Expand to see more
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 runner. 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 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 Cold Medicine

Medicine or drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor or physician, but are sold at local shopand drug stores are known as Over The Counter Medicines (OTC).  Almost every household around the world has 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 of their bodies and ensure effective immune systems. These OTC medicines typically have usage instructions printed on the cover of the medicine itself.

Type of Allergy

People react differently to different medicines and drugs. This may be due to the composition of the ingredients within the medicine or the effect the medicine may have on the users. Also, note that some users may have an allergic reaction to only some of the ingredients that may be in the drug or medicine. It is therefore very important for the buyer or user to read the label to make sure they’re not allergic to any of the ingredients

Side Effects

Side effects can be described as the negative and unexpected reactions the medicine produces. The side effects of OTC medicines should be an important thing to consider. When the composition of a non-prescribed drug contains a harmful substance to your body’s immune system, it is advisable that you look for an alternative or keep away from such medicines. Side effects may be dangerous or fatal.

Period of use/Time

Prolonged usage of over the counter medicine may, in the long run, have serious effects on the immune system.  A user may end up abusing such medicines which can cause serious damage or even death.  Such medicines should be taken in the correct dosage because they will be consumed for a longer period of time.

Effectiveness/Function

When buying any medicine you need to know how well it can function and how long will it take for you to notice any changes.   This also depends on your immune system.  Some people have a weak immune system while others have a strong one, so for weak immune systems you will need a much stronger medicine to work, but for someone who has a stronger immune system it may not take long for the body to fight off the cold with just a little boost from the medicine. Some cold drugs are immediately effective while others tend to take time to start functioning.  You should tell your physician what OTC medicines you’re taking and get their opinion and advice.

Cost

In most cases OTC medicines are less costly than ones perscribed by a doctor.  Getting the right medicine for less 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.   Just make sure you do not get fake drugs which might cause you more problems than you already have.

 

Other Important Things Worth Considering

Over the counter medicine and drugs can be a good or bad thing, depending on your intentions and use. There are factors that need to be considered when making the purchase and since 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 the right reasons since abusing them can cause dangerous or even fatal.  Below are some more 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 .

Ailment

You need to know the real reason for the cold since it might be more than just a cold and you can go get medicine that might not work at all or worst case scenario make you even worse.   Usually people who take OTC medicine don’t go to the doctor, so they haven’t been tested to find out the exact cause of your cold.  Before taking OTC medications you should know if you have just a cold or if it’s something else.  Because of this it’s up to you to decide whether or not to go to the doctor.

Direction for use

There are rules to follow when taking any drug, and in most cases they are written down. Even after you have purchased the drug, in order for it to be effective you need to adhere to the directions for taking them.  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.

 

FAQ

Our mission is to always give you all the information you need to choose any product.  In our research we were able to find the OTC drugs that are best and most effective.  After giving the information that is relevant, we finish by listing 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 will 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 very strict and do not sell medicine ordrugs unless you have a prescription, so go to one that can give you the medicine you need without a prescription.

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

A: Well this is one of the things that many people do once they feel the cold leave.   You think you are all good and you stop taking the medicine, which can result in having to take a stronger medicine the next time you have the same ailment.

Q: Are OTC medicines more expensive than ones?

A: In most cases, the OTC medicine are often lower priced than the ones you get prescribed after going to the doctor or hospital.  You could spend a lot of time and money at the hospital to treat the same ailment you could have treated with an OTC medicine.

Q: Are OTC medicine better than the prescribed ones?

A: No and yes.  Medicines perscribed by a doctor often have many of the same ingredients found in OTC medicines, just in smaller doses.  But make sure to do your research, read the label on the medicine, and be sure to follow the instructions.  You can often get the same kind of medicine from OTC medicines as perscribed ones, just be sure not to overdos from OTC or prescribed drugs and medicines.

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 risking your health.  OTC medications give relief by 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
Rockay Socks + Flipbelt
Next Giveaway draw
Your email is safe with us. Pinky swear
Share:
Enter the giveaway