Pharmacists' picks: Top cold, flu and allergy products

US News
U.S. News Pharmacy Picks

These pharmacist-recommended over-the-counter cold and flu products will make your next trip to the drugstore easier.

Ah, winter. The season for warm apple cider, cozy nights by the fire, feasts, family, and visits from two unwelcome guests: cold and flu.

Keep those bugs from knocking at your door by washing hands religiously, disinfecting germy surfaces like phones and keyboards, and getting a flu shot. If you do get sick, drink plenty of fluids and consider whether an over-the-counter product is right for you. But which one?

With drugstore shelves jam-packed with options, where do you begin? Top Recommended Health Products, a resource produced by U.S. News in collaboration with the industry trade magazine Pharmacy Times, may make your decision easier.

Below, you’ll see pharmacists’ top picks for cough, cold, and allergy relief. In some cases, two or more products tied for the “No. 1 Pharmacist Recommended” spot when their vote tallies came within 5 percentage points of each other.

View gallery

Best Antihistamines—Oral

For allergy sufferers, antihistamines can provide welcome relief from watery eyes, stuffy nose, and other annoying symptoms. They work to counter the effects of histamines—chemicals your immune system produces when reacting to an allergic trigger, such as pollen. Other products, such as nasal/topical decongestants and sinus products may also be helpful.

View gallery

Best Cold Remedies
Cold Remedies

We've all been there: the sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, and coughing of the common cold. When chicken noodle soup doesn't cut it, the products below may help shorten the duration of your cold when combined with lots of water and rest. Also look into homeopathic cold products.

Are you sure it's not the flu? Check out flu products, and cough, cold and flu combinations (daytime).

View gallery

Best Cough and Cold Daytime

Cough/ Cold/ Flu Combinations—Daytime

Although the flu usually hits harder and lasts longer than a cold, the two ailments cause many symptoms, including headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, and that dreaded cough. The daytime products below help you stay alert while getting relief.

Check out other cough, cold, and flu product variations, such as liquid and solid formulations.

View gallery

Cough, Cold and Flu liquid
Cough/ Cold/ Flu Combinations—Liquid Formulations

For cold and flu sufferers who prefer liquid to pills, the products below may offer relief against sore throats, stuffy noses, and other symptoms. There are many variations of cough, cold, and flu medications, including those for daytime and nighttime.

Rather swallow a pill? Try cough, cold, and flu combinations—solid formulations.

View gallery

Best Cough/ Cold/ Flu Combinations—Nighttime
Cough/ Cold/ Flu Combinations—Nighttime

The flu usually packs more punch than a cold, but they both cause many symptoms—headache, sore throat, cough, and congestion among them. The nighttime products below cause drowsiness as they fight symptoms, helping to ensure you get a good night's sleep.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Spot Gel

Cough/ Cold/ Flu Combinations—Solid Formulations

Dealing with cold or flu symptoms, but can't stomach a liquid medication? The solid cough, cold, and flu products to the right may help you feel better.

View gallery

Best cough suppressants
Cough Suppressants

Cough suppressants block—or suppress—the cough reflex. Generally, coughing is a healthy way to clear the airways of mucus, so cough suppressants should only be used for dry, hacking coughs. If you think you need to thin your mucus to more easily expel it, look into expectorants.

Best Nasal Decongestants
Decongestants—Nasal/ Topical

Stuffy nose? Decongestants may help clear you up by narrowing blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the nasal passage. Nasal/topical decongestants, like the products listed below, come in drop or spray form and are applied directly inside nostrils. Oral decongestants are another option.

View gallery

Best Flu Products

Flu Products

What hits suddenly and can lay you up for weeks with a headache, fever, and fatigue? That's right, the flu. While the flu shot is usually your best bet for preventing the flu, if you've already got the virus, these products may help you get back on your feet faster.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Teen Girls Arrested After Video of Assault on Man, 62, Appears on Facebook

      Two girls, one 14 and one 15, are accused of assaulting a 62-year-old man who told them to get off his lawn.

      Inside Edition
    • Doctors thought he just had jock itch. Then it spread.

      Late Friday afternoon on Dec. 4, 2014, Stephen Schroeder was waiting to board his packed flight from Philadelphia to Las Vegas for a much anticipated long weekend with his son when his cellphone rang. On the line was an unexpected caller: his doctor, reporting test results sooner than Schroeder had expected. Listening intently, Schroeder was flooded with disbelief as he struggled to comprehend what he was hearing. Using the lip of a trash can as a writing surface, he scribbled notes on the back of his boarding pass, making the doctor spell out each unfamiliar word. Then he sent a terse text to his wife, who was at their home in the Philadelphia suburbs, and got on the plane. Onboard, Schroeder,

      Washington Post q
    • A Redskins Coach Exposed His Wiener To Fans When He Whipped It Out To Pee On The Sideline

      One Redskins coach, however, decided to go full Nick Novak and pee on the sideline during Washington’s game on Sunday against Detroit. Ben Kotwica, Washington’s special teams coordinator, grabbed a cup, walked away from the action, and went to the bathroom. If you’d like to see the uncensored picture, Deadspin has your back.

    • Ex-attorney general sentenced to jail, then cuffed in court

      NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, once a rising star in state politics, left a courtroom in handcuffs on Monday after getting a 10- to 23-month sentence for a retaliation scheme a judge linked to her all-consuming ego.

      Associated Press
    • EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cudlitz Talks Abraham's Gory 'Walking Dead' Goodbye and If He'll Spinoff on 'Fear the Walking Dead'

      'The Walking Dead' fans said a final farewell to one of the biggest badasses we've ever had on the AMC drama: Michael Cudlitz as Abraham.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • I Have Really Mixed Feelings About Vanessa Hudgens' Halloween Costume

      Vanessa Hudgens is no stranger to expressing herself; the actress is known as much for her Boho style as her performances. But her penchant for experimentation has also brought with it a swarm of criticism—she's worn bindis as an accessory, dreamcatchers in her hair to Coachella, and now, the internet isn't exactly happy with her latest Snapchat. Last night, she posted photos of herself in what looks like a lace wig styled in box braids, and true to form fans lashed out, calling this another cultural appropriation stunt. For those unfamiliar, box braids are style originated and commonly worn by African American women as a protective style for their hair. Black women have been taunted and teased

      Glamour q
    • Attempting To Woo Latino Voters, Marco Rubio Gets Booed At Orlando Festival

      Florida Sen. Marco Rubio got booed off a stage in Orlando on Sunday, by a crowd that was overwhelmingly Latino. It happened at Calle Orange, a street festival in downtown Orlando geared toward the city's large Puerto Rican community. The icy reception was an indication of the challenges that Rubio, a Republican of Cuban heritage, has faced in locking down support from Latinos in Florida as the state's Latino electorate has begun to shift to the left. Crowd Boos As Rubio Speaks Embed Embed Some Latinos, including several people in the crowd, q
    • Donald Trump just got some of his best polling news in weeks

      A CNN poll released on Monday showed Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by five points...

      Business Insider
    • Mariah Carey Kicks Off Halloween 2016 (3 photos)

      From the hottest Halloween parties of the year to the best A-list Instagrams, check back as we round up the best celebrity costumes of 2016. From Harper's BAZAAR

      Harper's Bazaar
    • Principal brutally beaten after telling teen to remove headphones

      The principal at a lower Manhattan high school was beaten to a pulp by a student on Monday when he told the teen to remove his headphones, sources said. Principal Matthew Tossman of Manhattan Early College School for Advertising, which is in inside Murry Bergtraum HS, spotted 18-year-old Luis Penzo with his headphones blasting in the hallway around noon, according to police sources. Tossman asked Penzo to turn down the music, and Penzo refused. Then, when Tossman tried to remove the headphones, the 18-year-old student cold-cocked the principal. Penzo continued to pounce on Tossman, socking him several times in the face, causing swelling and lacerations around both of the principal’s eyes. Tossman

      New York Post q
    • 4 Reasons Why a Man Breaks Up With His Partner

      Wondering why a man breaks up with his partner? Here's why.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Xiaomi is selling the concept phone of your wildest dreams

      Nothing says sci-fi like a bezel-less screen, and Xiaomi’s newly announced Mi Mix Android phablet is very sci-fi with its 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. This 6.4-inch device has just been announced as a concept phone by the Chinese company, but weirdly enough, it has a price, ¥3,499 ($516), and a release date of November 4th in its home country. Think of every out-there spec you could cram into a phone and the Xiaomi Mi Mix probably has it.

      The Verge q
    • Cosmopolitan
    • NFL morning after: The decline of Colin Kaepernick

      Colin Kaepernick is the NFL’s most significant player off the field, a player whose simple act of declining to stand during the national anthem has led to wide-ranging discussions across America about race, police brutality, free speech and the role of sport in society. That has been the subject of thousands of commentaries. But it’s…

      NBC Sports: ProFootballTalk q
    • 'Pokémon Go' is dying — and Niantic is doing little to stop the bleeding

      "Pokémon Go" is probably the biggest mobile game in history — and easily the biggest...

      Business Insider
    • Oops! She Did It Again — Britney Spears’s Bra Top Came Undone at Her Las Vegas Performance

      Whether she’s carrying a seven-foot boa constrictor seductively across a stage, giving us the height of millennial fashion in a coordinated denim gown with Justin Timberlake, or simply displaying her unparalleled ability to Google Image search corn, it seems the singer has got it all under control.

    • Donald Trump's Lawyers Are Trying to Erase Him from the Trump U Trial, And I'm Calling Shenanigans

      Should Donald Trump be allowed to erase himself from the Trump University trial, scheduled to start on November 28 after years of back and forth? His legal team is certainly hoping so — they just filed a motion to "exclude evidence and argument" about Donald Trump from the proceedings, including ...

    • Dancing With the Stars Week 7 Recap: Did the Right Couple Go Home?

      We’ve reached Week 7 of Dancing With the Stars‘ 23rd season, and you know what that means: It’s become very clear which contestants stand a chance at the Mirrorball… and which ones, well, don’t. As the remaining couples performed iconic styles from different eras in history, a handful of duos proved exactly why they should be […]
    • Report claims iPhone 8 will feature a revolutionary new design that no one saw coming

      Next year, Apple is expected to release a completely redesigned iPhone 8 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. Following three consecutive years of seeing the same design reused in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7, Apple is expected to make dramatic changes to the appearance of its next-generation iPhone, and to the technology included inside the device. Previous reports have stated that the new iPhone 8 will feature an OLED display that covers almost all of the phone's face, and the home button and fingerprint scanner will be embedded beneath the screen. The phone is also expected to have a glass back instead of aluminum, and metal will surround the outer edges as it did on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4. According to a new report, however, these claims have it all wrong and the iPhone 8's new design will be unlike anything the world has ever seen. DON'T MISS:  iPhone 7 Plus vs Google Pixel speed tests: Yup, Android still gets crushed According to everything we've heard so far from tried and true sources, next year's iPhone 8 sounds pretty terrific. The new OLED screen is long overdue and Apple's removal of the home button may finally let it shrink down the overall size of its iPhones without decreasing the size of the displays. Fans are excited enough as it is, but now a new report claims that Apple's upcoming iPhone redesign is far more revolutionary than any previous rumors claimed. "The next iPhone will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass (er, Gorilla Glass sandwich with other polycarbonates for being pretty shatter resistant if dropped) with a next-generation OLED screen (I have several sources confirming this)," wrote longtime tech blogger and current Entrepreneur in Residence at UploadVR in a post on Facebook . "You pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it." He says the next-generation iPhone will be clear — as in, completely transparent so that users can see straight through it — so that Apple can use it to power an augmented reality experience similar to the one offered by Microsoft's HoloLens. "The phone itself has a next-generation 3D sensor from Primesense, which Apple bought," Scoble added. "Apple has 600 engineers working in Israel on just the sensor. It's the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. It's the first product introduction in Apple's new amazing headquarters. It's a big f**king deal and will change this industry deeply." He continued, "Also, updates from new sources: expect battery and antennas to be hidden around the edges of the screen, which explains how Apple will fit in some of the pieces even while most of the chips that make up a phone are in a pack/strip at the bottom of the phone." This all sounds absolutely incredible... and completely implausible. First, we're years away from having technology that would enable Apple to build an iPhone like the one Scoble describes with a battery and antennas "hidden around the edges of the screen" that would last longer than about 4 minutes on a charge. We've seen some pretty spectacular tech as far as transparent displays are concerned — check out this invisible TV from Panasonic , which is incredible — but scaling it down to a device the size of a smartphone isn't happening in 2017. Beyond that, this contradicts everything we've heard so far from the most reliable sources in the world when it comes to leaking Apple's plans, such as The Wall Street Journal and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Scoble has plenty of sources in the startup world and he's had some scoops in the past, but he doesn't quite have the kind of track record with Apple scoops that would make us confident in these outlandish claims, however much we'd love for them to be true.

      BGR News