Cold and Flu Remedies

Preparations containing drugs that ease the symptoms of colds and flu

Common drugs


  • Aspirin

  • Ibuprofen

  • Paracetamol


  • Ephedrine

  • Oxymetazoline

  • Phenylephrine

  • Pseudoephedrine

  • Xylometazoline

There are no cures for the common cold or influenza, but there are various remedies that may suppress the symptoms and ease discomfort. Most of these remedies are combinations of drugs, which may include a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to lower fever and relieve muscle aches, sore throat, and headache; decongestants to relieve congestion; caffeine, which acts as a mild stimulant; and vitamin C. Generally, doctors advise taking single drugs to treat individual symptoms rather than medicines that contain several different types of drug, some of which are not necessary. Antiviral drugs may occasionally be used to treat influenza.

How are they used?

Dosages for cold and flu remedies tend to vary. It is important to follow the instructions given with the product and not to exceed the recommended daily dose of paracetamol because high doses can cause liver damage. Children under the age of 16 should not be given aspirin, except on the advice of a doctor, because this drug is linked with Reye’s syndrome. You should avoid taking cold and flu remedies containing aspirin or ibuprofen if you have asthma, a peptic ulcer, indigestion, or gout.


Do not give aspirin to children under 16 years, except on the advice of a doctor, because it increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

Back to top