These products can help, but the best expectorant may be as near as your kitchen sink."All you need to do is drink more water," Dering-Anderson said.Homeopathic products are not as tightly regulated as drugs. Often used to treat allergies, common brand names include Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl.
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Defend This homeopathic remedy claims to fight multiple symptoms of a cold including "hacking cough" or "rattling/tickling cough." According to Alonzo, there's no data that show either way whether Defend works.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health says that there's little to no evidence that any homeopathic products work. If your symptoms include runny nose and scratchy throat, an antihistamine may provide temporary relief.
Pain relievers A pain reliever may be the first thing you reach for when you come down with a cold, and with good reason.
"Pain relievers for coughs and cold can be very effective," Alonzo said. Anti-inflammatory meds like Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen) have the advantage of reducing tissue inflammation, but you should take Tylenol (acetaminophen) instead if you're taking blood thinners to prevent blood clots or if you have stomach problems, congestive heart failure, or asthma and nasal polyps.
The average American gets three colds a year, each lasting for nine to 14 miserable days, so it's no surprise that we spend billions of dollars on over-the-counter cold and flu remedies annually. Some evidence suggests that zinc lozenges (like Zicam and Cold-Eeze) may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold, but most studies are small and don't provide "robust" evidence of benefit, said Joy P. D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville. And there may be a drawback to some forms of zinc: In 2009, taking zinc nasal products was linked to a permanent loss of taste and smell in some people.