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Cold remedies: The best helpers against cough, runny nose, fever

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Cold remedies: The best helpers against cough, runny nose, fever

Hardly anyone gets through the cold season without a cold. The first symptom is usually a sore throat, followed by a runny nose, cough, sometimes also fever, headache and body aches. Many sufferers fight the common cold with home remedies or medication.

But not every drug is a good choice, as the drug tests by Stiftung Warentest show. Patients can save themselves bad buys if they search our database for the best cold remedies. This can also be good for the wallet: there are sometimes large price differences for medicines with a specific recommended active ingredient.

Cold remedy in the test

Nasal spray, cough syrup, painkillers. In the Drugs in Test database, we explain which drugs are the best for colds, coughs, headaches, sore throats and fever. The drug prices in the database are always up to date – and we reveal how you can save money when buying drugs. With a flat rate subscription, you can access the database directly. The alternative: Pay 4.90 euros for a single call.

Herbal remedies for colds. In the database you will also find assessments of plant-based remedies such as cold teas, preparations with myrtol, echinacea or umckaloabo.

Better to fight each symptom individually

The best-selling and intensively advertised combination preparations such as Grippostad C, Aspirin complex or Wick MediNait promise to relieve various symptoms at the same time and therefore contain several active ingredients.

However, the drug experts at Stiftung Warentest advise treating each symptom individually. After all, sore throats, runny noses, coughs and other symptoms often occur one after the other and with different intensities. Not every active ingredient in a combination remedy is necessary in every phase of a cold, they often put unnecessary strain on the body. The combination of different active ingredients in the same drug is also associated with an increased risk of side effects.

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Nasal sprays and nose drops: So that the mucous membrane swells

If the nasal mucosa is so swollen that it is difficult to breathe when you have a cold, nasal sprays and nose drops with decongestants are popular. Preparations without preservatives are better tolerated. Even these cold sprays should not be used for more than seven days – otherwise the nasal mucosa will get used to it and swell again after stopping.

Our database shows the most suitable and cheapest nasal sprays. As long as the nose does not feel severely blocked, it can be sufficient to gently rinse the nasal mucosa with saline nasal sprays without preservatives. It transports the secretion, which impairs the cilia in their cleaning function, to the outside.

Cough syrup and effervescent tablets: stop or relieve a cough

The selection of cough medicine is large. People who have a cold have to decide which ones make sense at all. Cough suppressants, for example, can dampen dry coughs – they are available with synthetically produced active ingredients or with buckhorn. The coughing phase is often followed by the expectoration phase – cough suppressants can help with this. How well they are suitable and what effervescent tablets or herbal preparations bring is in our overview of cough medicine.

Lozenges and Throat Sprays: For a sore throat

Moisturizing the mucous membrane of the throat helps against a sore throat – this works well with lozenges. In the case of slight pain, an ordinary candy can have a beneficial effect. For more severe pain, there are drugs with anesthetic and disinfecting agents, some of which are suitable, some less suitable. Our table of sore throat remedies also includes reviews of sore throat sprays.

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Painkillers: Against body aches and fever

Painkillers with the active ingredients ibuprofen, paracetamol and acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) can combat mild to moderate pain and fever. Users should strictly follow dosage recommendations and take the active ingredient that suits them. Not every painkiller makes sense for everyone – for example, the choice depends on whether you have a sensitive stomach or an affected liver.

Our painkiller table reveals how painkillers work and whether vitamin C supplements have a therapeutic benefit.

Plant-based: Alternative cold remedies

Many consumers count on cough suppressants with extracts of ivy or thyme, cold teas, essential oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint and camphor. Drugs made from the herb of the coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) have a reputation for strengthening the immune system and protecting against infections. Umckaloabo is also popular. The root extract from the South African geranium species Cape Pelargonium is said to protect mucous membranes and kill bacteria, among other things. Umckaloabo is approved for acute bronchitis.

This is what the drug experts at Stiftung Warentest say: We consider some herbal remedies to be useful for improving well-being – even if there is not yet enough scientific evidence for therapeutic effectiveness. For example, cold tea can provide warmth and fluid. A cold bath or cold ointment with essential oils can help some to breathe more easily, but the remedies can cause shortness of breath in children under the age of two, people with chronic respiratory problems and asthmatics.

Vitamin supplements: Eating a balanced diet is enough

During the cold season, many people take vitamin C and zinc‧ supplements to boost their immune system. The need for zinc and vitamin C can be easily covered with a balanced diet, as our special with tables on minerals and vitamins shows. However, an analysis by Stiftung Warentest from 2017 revealed that vitamin supplements on the market can be overdosed.

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