URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/coldandcoughmedicines.html

Cold and Cough Medicines

On this page

See, Play and Learn

  • No links available

Resources

Summary

Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing -- everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. Every year, adults get about 2-3 colds, and children get even more.

What can you do for your cold or cough symptoms? Besides drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest, you may decide to take medicines. There are lots of different cold and cough medicines, and they do different things.

  • Nasal decongestants - unclog a stuffy nose
  • Cough suppressants - quiet a cough
  • Expectorants - loosen mucus so you can cough it up
  • Antihistamines - stop runny noses and sneezing
  • Pain relievers - ease fever, headaches, and minor aches and pains

Before taking these medicines, read the labels carefully. Many cold and cough medicines contain the same active ingredients. For example, taking too much of certain pain relievers can lead to serious injury. Do not give cold or cough medicines to children under four, and don't give aspirin to children. Finally, antibiotics won't help a cold.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Start Here

Treatments and Therapies

Related Issues

Specifics

Clinical Trials

Children

Teenagers