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Learn the most effective way to treat the most common cold symptoms.

When you have a cold, it's very important to choose the right medicines for your symptoms. Here are five common cold symptoms and the recommended over-the-counter remedies:

  • For a stuffy nose: Use a nasal decongestant.
  • To quiet a cough: Use a cough suppressant.
  • To loosen mucus so you can cough it up: Use an expectorant.
  • To stop a runny nose and sneezing: Use an antihistamine.
  • To ease fever, headache, and minor aches and pains: Use a pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

**A reminder when treating children's colds: Do not give aspirin or other salicylates to children or teenagers with symptoms of a cold or flu. If you aren't sure whether a product contains salicylates, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Young people can get sick or die from a rare condition called Reye's syndrome if they take such medicines while they have these symptoms. If you are unsure which medication is best for you or your child, consult your physician.