10 Best Medicines for Congestion Reviewed

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In order to continue receiving the oxygen needed to run, walk, and engage in normal bodily functions, your lungs and sinuses need to be clear of any obstructions. If any of your breathing passages become congested, you won’t be able to perform at your full potential. Congestion can occur from seasonal illnesses such as the common cold or can be indicators of a more serious ailment like bronchitis. Regardless of where it comes from, congestion is a hindrance that can have a negative impact on your well-being.

Fortunately for individuals who suffer from congestion, plenty of medical solutions are available to alleviate this debilitating condition. These range from tablets and liquids to topical creams and nasal sprays. With so many different medicines with a variety of active ingredients, it can be difficult finding the best tool for the job. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best non-prescription congestion medicines on the market.

Mucinex 12 Hr
  • Mucinex 12 Hr
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Minimal Side Effects
  • Price: See Here
Vicks VapoRub
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Simple Formula
  • Price: See Here
Sudafed PE Max Relief
  • Sudafed PE Max Relief
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Strong Dosage
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Medicines for Congestion

 

Mucinex 12 Hr Chest Congestion Expectorant

Mucinex has made one of the best treatments for debilitating cases of sinus and chest congestion on the market. With an extended-release formula that offers relief over a 12 hour period, this is a terrific remedy for debilitating cases of stuffiness that would otherwise interfere with a hard day’s work or a good night’s sleep. Better yet, it comes at an extremely reasonable price point and has nearly universal praise from reviewers.
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Purity

Although most tablet forms of congestion medicine need to include several inactive ingredients, Mucinex has the least amount of them possible. Most of these superfluous components are necessary to comprise the physical tablets they come in, with the remaining ingredients enhancing the effects of its active chemical.

Potency

It’s going to be tough, if not impossible, to find another congestion treatment medicine that offers the same potency per dose. Since Mucinex is comprised of guaifenesin and contains no dextromethorphan, it’s able to ensure congestion relief in high doses without the risk of adverse side effects. However, taking excessively large doses of this medicine is not recommended.

Value

Whether you purchase this medicine in a pack of 20, a pack of 40, or a pack of 100, the cost per dose is extremely low. This is the biggest indicator of value, with the affordability increasing with larger bulk orders, but the option to purchase smaller packages is convenient for individuals who simply want to treat their stuffiness without having a boatload of tablets left over.

Popularity

Close to 1,000 people have left reviews for this product online, with all but 5% of them giving a perfect score. While it doesn’t exactly prove that this is the best product for congestion relief on the market, it certainly should inspire some confidence in its effectiveness. The closest thing to criticism found is that some shipments of this product expire relatively soon, so buying in bulk may not be a good idea.
Pros
  • Unparalleled popularity
  • High potency with minimal side effects
  • Very few inactive ingredients
Cons
  • Short shelf life

Vicks VapoRub

The quintessential topical remedy for a stuffy nose, Vicks VapoRub is one of the most popular congestion treatment products around. While it may not resolve more serious cases or offer long-lasting treatment, its non-invasive treatment method and afforable price has made it a universally loved naturalistic medication.
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Purity

The formula that comprises Vicks VapoRub is extremely simple, with about as many inactive ingredients as there are active ones. This means that no one who applies this medicine will have to worry about exposing their body to confusing and worrisome chemicals; all they have to do is smear some on their chest and breathe clearly once again.

Potency

While this formula is effective at clearing one’s nasal passages, it offers little help in relieving chest congestion. This is only an effective treatment method for minor cases of nasal stuffiness, so individuals looking to relieve more serious symptoms will need to either supplement Vicks with additional medicines or choose a different product entirely.

Value

One package of VapoRub can be purchased for less than five dollars. It’s just not possible to find a better deal on congestion relief than that. Larger packages will come at an increased cost, but the extremely low fiscal barrier to entry is part of what makes this product so appealing as a general congestion treatment method.

Popularity

People just can’t get enough of this topical remedy. With many reviews left online, the majority of customers have stated that this is one of the gentlest and most effective ways for them to relieve sinus congestion and pressure. Some people even like to place small doses in their humidifiers to fill their rooms with the smell of menthol.
Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Minimal inactive ingredients
  • Very popular
Cons
  • Ineffective at relieving chest congestion

Sudafed PE Congestion Max Relief

As the most powerful version of this over-the-counter cough medicine, this Sudafed product is designed to offer the strongest possible degree of congestion relief. Although individuals with minor cases of stuffiness may want to pass on this product for something gentler, this is a terrific option for the worst cases.
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Purity

The powerful treatment provided by this medication comes at the cost of a lengthy list of inactive ingredients. Many of these ingredients are unrecognizable, meaning that the vast majority of individuals taking this medicine simply won’t know what exactly they’re putting into their body. If this is something that bothers you, then you’re better off with a different product.

Potency

With a very high dose of phenylephrine, this congestion medicine is sure to knock out even the worst cases of chest and sinus congestion. Although it won’t resolve underlying issues that are the catalyst of most serious cases, it can definitely offer some relief for those who are suffering from these illnesses.

Value

With such a recognizable brand name and a promise of maximum strength, it will come as a surprise to many prospective customers to see it sold at such a low price. Without the need to place a bulk order and have multiple doses left over, this is the perfect dirt-cheap congestion remedy.

Popularity

This is not the most popular congestion medicine based on the number of reviews left online. However, out of the people who did take the time to leave their thoughts on this product, the general consensus is that it works exceptionally well at treating their stuffiness and clearing their breathing passages.
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Strong dosage
  • Popular brand
Cons
  • A plethora of inactive ingredients

Naturade Herbal Expec

This congestion remedy sets itself apart from most others on the market by presenting a more holistic and natural alternative to synthetic chemicals and concoctions. Aside from its main ingredient, most of this medicine is derived from natural sources.
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Purity

Despite advertising itself as a natural remedy, the list of inactive ingredients for this herbal expectorant is quite large. It’s true that these ingredients are mostly plant-based, such as menthol and ginkgo biloba, but the sheer quantity of them may cause some individuals to be concerned.

Potency

With a high dose of guaifenesin, this medication is designed around making coughing fits more effective at treating congestion rather than suppressing the urge to cough in general. While this accomplishes the intended task of removing congestion, its potency may cause some discomfort for sensitive individuals.

Value

No one said natural remedies were going to be cheap. Although the cost of a single bottle of this medicine is within the same price range as many other medications, it also comes at the same price some syrups offer for bulk orders. The price per dose comparison of this product isn’t very favorable.

Popularity

Despite not having as many reviews as many other medications on this list, the people who have left their thoughts on Naturade have been extremely positive. One common recommendation made by reviewers is to take this syrup with a glass of water because it can cause some stomach issues without it.
Pros
  • High potency
  • Derived from natural ingredients
  • Very popular
Cons
  • Many inactive ingredients
  • Somewhat pricey

Creomulsion

Touted as the most effective cough suppressant on the market that doesn’t require a prescription, the truth is that this is simply a decent congestion medication without a plethora of harmful additives. A decent price tag and high popularity make this a solid pick for individuals suffering from stuffiness.
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Purity

Although there are still several inactive ingredients contained in the Creomulsion formula, these are harmless and mostly derived from natural resources. Unless you’re worried about creosote or sucrose, this medicine will treat your symptoms without introducing harmful chemicals into your body.

Potency

Creomulsion, also known as dextromethorphan, is the key ingredient in this congestion medicine. It works by suppressing signals in the brain that would trigger a cough reaction, which will only work for individuals suffering from a cold or flu. Still, it’s a decently potent medication that will address the symptoms for most people.

Value

Although the price tag for this product may seem a bit high, the justification for this is the fact that this medicine comes in packs of three. When calculating the cost per dose, the value of this congestion medication is actually very reasonable. However, buying in bulk will most likely lead to much of this product being left over after the congestion is relieved.

Popularity

With almost universal praise online, this is one of the most popular cough suppressant syrups on the market. Reviewers praise its effectiveness at treating their symptoms but they also mention its nasty taste and potential for side effects if used improperly.
Pros
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Excellent value
  • Very popular
Cons
  • Disgusting taste
  • Potential side effects

Advil Sinus Congestion and Pain Relief

With more of a focus on general pain and inflammation relief, this incredibly popular panacea has been updated with additional congestion medication. Despite having a high-profile name that attracts a great deal of praise, the actual potency of this medicine is suspect.
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Purity

With so many different inactive ingredients labeled with bizarre scientific names, it’s unclear what purpose many of these chemicals serve. Xanthan gum, glycerin, and wax are important for bonding the tablets, but the scores of other components are a complete mystery. Customers interested in naturalistic remedies should give this one a pass.

Potency

200 milligrams of ibuprofen in each tablet will have a powerful effect on the individual’s pain and swelling, reducing much of the negative sensations commonly associated with nasal congestion. Coupled with a small amount of an additional decongestant, this medicine effectively treats the cause and symptoms of nasal stuffiness.

Value

The cost per pill for this Advil offshoot is alarmingly high. It’s difficult to justify this inflated cost, since the primary active ingredient can be found in bulk for significantly cheaper. It appears that the only justification for its price is the brand name associated with it. However, the relief that it purportedly offers for congested individuals is worth spending a bit more money on in the eyes of the majority.

Popularity

Despite having a large list of confusing inactive ingredients and a ridiculous price tag, this is one of the most popular congestion medications online. The root of this high acclaim is likely a combination of the brand name and the general effectiveness of ibuprofen as a cure-all.
Pros
  • Relieves pain
  • Reliable brand name
  • Reduces swelling
Cons
  • High price per dose
  • Confusing inactive ingredients

Nasacourt Nasal Spray

With multiple packages available for small or large orders, this nasal spray is offered at a convenient rate for the buyer. It’s twice as potent as the other nasal sprays on this list but some of the inactive ingredients may be cause for concern.
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Purity

The active ingredient in this medication is one that is commonly found in nasal sprays, but a large number of inactive ingredients contained in this formula may be troubling to some. In particular, a small amount of hydrochloric acid can scare away some potential customers, although it’s far from enough to cause any damage if appropriately administered.

Potency

The other nasal sprays on this buying guide offer a guarantee that they will treat sinus congestion for up to 12 hours after dosing. Nasacourt offers an even better deal with a full 24 hours of clear breathing passages after just one spray in each nostril. It goes without saying that this is a seriously potent medication.

Value

Depending on the needs of each customer, Nasacourt is conveniently offered in a variety of packages. Individuals who just need one unit can purchase it separately, while those who would like to save on bulk orders also have the option to do so. It’s a rare thing to see when ordering nasal sprays online.

Popularity

This medication has been reviewed by almost a thousand customers with an overwhelmingly positive reception. Something worth noting, however, is that a few customers noticed nasal damage if they used this medicine for too long; because of that, caution should be exercised when administering Nasacourt.
Pros
  • Fantastically potent
  • Package deals
  • High popularity
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Can cause damage if excessively dosed

Robitussin DM Max

With a combination of active ingredients that work to powerfully treat chest congestion, this raspberry flavored non-drowsy cough syrup will easily eliminate most minor cases of the cold or flu. The only things to look out for is excessive dosing and the number of inactive ingredients.
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Purity

While this maximum strength congestion medicine features powerful active ingredients, they come with a laundry list of inactive ones. Some of these are simple bonding agents while others are common health concerns such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Potency

The dextromethorphan contained in Robitussin is a powerful anti-cough medicine, while the guaifenesin makes coughing fits more effective. Being a maximum strength medication, the doses of these two medicines are so potent that taking too much may cause queasiness, so care must be taken when administering this syrup.

Value

The cost per fluid ounce of this medicine is a bit on the steep side but it is still well within an acceptable price range. This increased cost can be attributed to the increased strength of this Robitussin formula, making it a justified asking price. Still, individuals with less severe cases of stuffiness can find a suitable medication for a lower cost.

Popularity

This medicine is so powerful that it only recently became available over-the-counter, meaning customers used to require a prescription to obtain it. Among those who have tried it, a great deal of praise has been given regarding its effectiveness and lack of harmful side effects.
Pros
  • Extremely potent
  • Very popular
  • Pleasant taste
Cons
  • High price
  • Contains unhealthy ingredients

Vicks Sinex Moisturizing Nasal Spray

This moisturizing nasal spray from the makers of the extremely popular VapoRub helps to relieve sinus congestion while avoiding the common side effects that come from similar medications. It’s a great value and generally popular, although its potency and purity are questionable.
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Purity

In order to make this medication more comfortable to the taker, some additional ingredients were added aside from the standard nasal spray bonding agents. These include aloe, sorbitol, and fragrances, which can improve the experience of dosing but has no effect on the actual sinus congestion.

Potency

As a consequence to this medicine’s more soothing application, the decongesting effects aren’t as pronounced as some of the more potent alternatives. However, the vast majority of reviewers have stated that it certainly gets the job done. Also worth noting is that this medication will only treat sinus congestion; individuals suffering from chest congestion will need to look elsewhere for treatment.

Value

No bulk offer is available for purchasing this nasal spray, meaning that the cost per volume is a bit on the high side. However, the cost for one package is conveniently low and will provide enough medicine to relieve one person’s sinus issues for the entire cold season. Enough doses are included with one package to share with another person suffering from sinus congestion, although the hygiene issues associated with sharing may discourage you from doing so.

Popularity

The good news is that this Vicks nasal spray is reviewed very favorably by customers, with a high average rating on Amazon. The bad news is that relatively few people have left reviews on this product, meaning that the average rating isn’t necessarily indicative of the general population’s impression.
Pros
  • Soothing application
  • Doesn’t dry out nostrils
  • Popular reception
Cons
  • Many inactive ingredients
  • No bulk offers

Afrin Original Nasal Spray

This effective non-drowsy nasal spray can provide up to 12 hours of congestion relief and comes at a fantastic value. A less popular reception and a plethora of inactive ingredients keep this medicine from being truly great, instead settling for just being good.
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Purity

In order to administer the active ingredient in this nasal spray, a large number of inactive ingredients are required. These are mostly bonding agents and shouldn’t cause any adverse health effects, but the presence of these superfluous chemicals can cause concern for some individuals.

Potency

What’s unique about this nasal spray is that although the active ingredient is delivered in a very small dosage, the effects of it are substantial. Just one spray of this medicine in each nostril will immediately open up the nasal passages for an extended period of time, making this treatment method surprisingly potent.

Value

Afrin is commonly sold in packs of three when purchasing through online retailers. While this means that it comes at a fantastic value per dosage, the truth is that virtually no one will need this much medicine unless their entire extended family is suffering from sinus congestion. However, there is no denying that it is sold at an excellent price per volume.

Popularity

This nasal spray has favorable rankings online with a large number of reviews, but it isn’t as highly praised as many other products on this list. Common complaints include that the cap is extremely difficult to take off and that the spray can cause sneezing fits in some individuals.
Pros
  • Excellent value
  • Surprisingly potent
  • Decent popularity
Cons
  • Lackluster purity
  • Difficult to open

 

The Criteria We Used to Find the Best Medicine for Congestion

No one medicine is going to work for every person. However, the medications listed in this buying guide are the best products out of their respective forms of dosage. However, it is important to keep in mind that none of the information listed here should be taken as professional medical advice. Out of hundreds of competing products, these ten made the cut when evaluated on the following criteria:

Purity

All of these medicines are made up of one or two active ingredients and an array of inactive ingredients. Whether or not these inactive ingredients serve a secondary purpose, this category favorably rates products that keep ancillary components to a minimum.

Potency

When taking these medications, the different ingredients and methods of delivery can vary in terms of strength. For the sake of this buying guide, stronger medicines are judged more favorably, with products that require greater doses to achieve similar results receiving lower ratings.

Value

A few different factors go into or final judgment in terms of value. In addition to the average cost per pill or fluid ounce, and the possibility of bundle deals, this category compares the potency of each dose to ensure you get your money’s worth.

Popularity

Full disclosure: whether or not a product is popular has no logical bearing on its quality or effectiveness. However, the general reception of medicine can provide clues as to their effectiveness, and reviews left by customers can warn of potential side effects. This category judges the number of reviews and aggregate ratings for each product.

Other Important Factors to Consider

The factors described above are sufficient for determining the quality of the ten items listed in this buying guide. However, there may be some individuals who have particular circumstances that may necessitate additional information. For the sake of these special cases, here are some other factors worth consideration:

Additives

Certain active or inactive ingredients contained in some of these medications may have the potential to trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Other additives may conflict with certain diets, such as animal-based gelatin for tablets.

Prescriptions

All of the products listed here are over-the-counter and do not require a prescription to obtain. For individuals with much more serious conditions, it may be a better idea to take stronger medication prescribed by a medical professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What congestion medicine is safe for pregnant women?

A: Medicines containing guaifenesin and dextromethorphan as their active ingredients are safe to use when pregnant. Topical creams such as Vicks are also safe since they don’t require ingestion to work. Pseudoephedrine is unsafe to take during the first trimester, but it can be taken safely during subsequent trimesters.

Q: What congestion medicine is safe for infants and toddlers?

A: Cold and cough medicine is unsafe to give to children younger than four years old. To relieve congestion in toddlers and infants, use a nasal bulb to remove built-up mucous in their sinuses. A small amount of saline can be used safely in this process.

Q: Will congestion go away on its own?

A: Most cases of congestion are caused by seasonal illnesses such as the cold or flu and will resolve themselves after a few days of rest and fluids. However, more serious causes of congestion such as bronchitis or emphysema will require assistance from a doctor and regular medication to treat.

Q: Will a humidifier help to relieve congestion?

A: Sometimes, congestion can occur if the air around you is too dry. In these situations, adding extra humidity to the air around you with the aid of a humidifier can help to relieve this congestion. Humidifiers can also be used to treat congestion from a cold or flu but they won’t be very helpful for more serious conditions.

Q: Why does congestion switch nostrils?

A: The vast majority of individuals only breath out of one nostril at a time. This is because their nasal tissue will swell or shrink every few hours to block airflow from one or the other nasal passage. It’s possible that an individual with this form of nasal functionality can experience the same phenomenon with congestion as a result.

Sources

  1. Men's Health, Best Congestion Medicine, Article,
  2. LiveStrong, Over the Counter Medicines for Sinus Congestion, Article,
  3. Med Consumers, Best Medicine for Chest Congestion, Website,
  4. Thoroughly Reviewed, Best Cough Suppressant, Article,
  5. Health Hearty, Best Medication for Chest Congestion, Website,
  6. Click Remedies, Chest Congestion Remedies, Website,
  7. Women's Health, Cold and Flu Medicine, Article,
  8. Beauty Sight, Best Nasal Congestion Medicine, Article,
  9. Med Consumers, Best Medicine for Sinus Pressure, Website,
  10. Very Well, Medications for Sinusitis, Website,

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