What is the best cold / flu medicine for kids and adults?

It’s hard to not keep talking about colds and flu. After all, it’s pretty frequent where I’m from. So you can expect that people have their own ideas about what is the best cold/flu medicine, even differentiating between kids and adults.

Here’s one very popular option.



What it is: Chlorpheniramine is popular among adults coming down with a flu. It’s a yellow tablet that you can easily get from a doctor.

Why it’s popular: From personal experience, I know it relieves blocked nose very fast.

For kids: There is also a liquid orange version that kids can take. It provides fast relief from flu as well and is useful when you need kids to sleep without being woken up by blocked nose.

Before you go out and get chlorpheniramine

Some of the side effects of Chlorpheniramine include faster heartbeat and drowsiness. I know of people who like Chlorpheniramine for the latter, ignorant that it’s not an intended effect of the medication.

The fact that such medicine comes with side effects should ring alarm bells. Why? Because, who knows what exactly it could be doing inside your body?

Do you know that the synthetic nature of medicine like chlorpheniramine means that what appears to be the most effective could be dangerous in the long run at the same time? Are they really the best solution?

The truth about the best cold/flu medicine

Let’s look at some other medicine that people think are the best to take for cold/flu.


People often request antibiotics from their doctors, even though they are not appropriate for flu. Flu is caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria.

Examples: Augmentin, penicillin

What they really are: Not effective against flu, because they only fight bacterial infections, not flu viruses. Frequent usage of antibiotics will also cause antibiotic resistance, which may render antibiotics useless when you really need them.

Scientific research says:

Scientists from New Zealand who do periodic reviews of studies on taking antibiotics for flu have found that antibiotics

  • Do not have any effect on how fast you recover
  • Carry greater risk of negative side effects than if you didn’t take antibiotics


What they really are: Only relieve the symptom of stuffy nose or chest.

Use with care because: Side effects include insomnia and high blood pressure. Nasal decongestants, those that you drip into your nostrils, are not recommended for children below 12 years old.

Alternative: Equal proportions of the essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and cajeput (thanks to The Naturalist Grandeur for the recommendation) in a cup of hot water.

Fever or pain medication

Examples: Brufen, paracetamol

What they really are: Help in lowering body temperature and relieving aches.

Use with care because: Research has mentioned that it may not be good to use paracetamol for mild fevers.

Your immune system needs higher temperatures to fight enemies. A fever is a sign that your immune system is busy fighting the flu virus, which no medicine can do for you!

Combination medicine

Examples: Coldrex, Panadol, Zyrtec-D, and many over-the-counter cold/flu medicines

What they really are: They relieve multiple symptoms of cold/flu. This is because they contain combinations of multiple types of the medications listed above and others like cough suppressants and expectorants. Here’s an example:


As you can see, Decofam is a combination medicine containing guaiphenesin and ammonium chloride as expectorants, and ephedrine as a decongestant.

The best cold/flu cure is within you

So if cold/flu medicine is actually merely relieving symptoms, what is really helping in your recovery?

It’s your immune system!

Your immune system is working 24/7 to protect you from health threats. If it’s strong enough, it actually defeats a flu virus without you even knowing it.

When that happens, you won’t even have to deal with the symptoms of flu/cold.

Having a strong immune system protects you from complications of the flu virus too.

For example, H1N1 not only makes you sick, it disables your cytokines from protecting you against pneumonia.

So your best bet is really your immune system. The best part is that unlike some medicine, it’s:

  • Totally safe
  • Suitable for kids and adults
  • Helpful for your health in the long run. Your immune system helps to protect all the different systems in your body.

Help yourself to these remedies instead

To recover faster, you need to feed your immune system with the food it needs. Scientists suggest that natural cold/flu remedies help to prevent, relieve, and shorten illnesses.

Here are some plant foods good for fighting against cold/flu:


Peppermint is antiviral. It soothes the throat so it feels less sore. It also helps in clearing phlegm. In fact, traditional and modern cough medicines incorporate mint to harness its effectiveness.


The effective phytochemicals in echinacea include polysaccharides, alkamides, and cichoric acid. Volunteers took a standardized extract of echinacea containing these nutrients when their colds started. They experienced less severe symptoms than those who didn’t take the echinacea.

I hope you’ve benefited from this post. What are your trusted medicines for cold/flu? Would you put them aside and try out natural remedies like peppermint and echinacea?

Learn more

  1. Antibiotics for the common cold and acute purulent rhinitis.
  2. Nasal decongestants for the common cold.
  3. Clinical Report—Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children.
  4. Combination cold and flu medication for children: a guide for pharmacists.
  5. Effect of the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus in the Human Immune System
  6. Cold And Flu: Conventional vs Botanical & Nutritional Therapy
  7. Antimicrobial Activity and Medicinal Values of Essential Oil of Mentha Piperita L.
  8. Efficacy of a standardized echinacea preparation (EchinilinTM) for the treatment of the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

6 Comments on "What is the best cold / flu medicine for kids and adults?"

  1. This is indeed important information since there’s been flu going around here recently. My boy just had a bad cough and later on he started having a temperature and ear infection. I had to take him to urgent care last night. Although, I also think out immune system is the best remedy, I’m still concerned about whenever my little boy gets sick, so I’d still give him pain meds for his fever and cough drop. For me, I can withstand flu. I had high fever and bad flu for 2 weeks during my basic military training without any meds or doctor and I functioned fine and fought through it.


    1. Hi Joon! Yes for kids it’s not so straightforward as to just wait things out. Firstly, you’re not your kid, so you never know what is going on inside his/her body.

      Secondly, kids have a lower tolerance of discomfort. What is ok for an adult may be torture for your child.

      Third, the discomfort may disrupt your child’s sleep, in which case I would strongly suggest to give some relief. Sleep is a very powerful medicine in itself. Lack of sleep will hinder the immune system from doing its job.

      Like you, I have experienced times when there is no choice but to send my child to the emergency ward or give medicine like the ones I’ve mentioned.

      But it is still helpful to give your child’s immune system a hand with especially plant foods like peppermint and cactus, both when unwell and well. Check out some immunity boosting supplements for children here.


  2. Wow! This is such an informative review! All this time I didn’t know that antibiotics are ineffective when treating the flu. I also liked the fact that you listed common cold medicines and the symptoms they relieve.

    I definitely agree with you on your immune system being the human body’s best defense against the cold/ flu. Thanks for including peppermint! I have been battling a sore throat for the past week and luckily I have some peppermint oil on hand.

    Can’t wait to try it!

    Keep Smiling!


    1. Hi Joeka! Not sure what you will do with the peppermint oil for your sore throat, but there are apparently peppermint throat sprays like this one to help soothe and fight sore throat. Get well soon!


  3. Hi Regina,

    This is a very helpful article. Everybody gets the flu, no matter where you live or what you do. It is good to know what to have in the medicine case for when you get sick.

    Do you get Chlorpheniramine in any country or just in the US?




    1. Hi Cj! I am in Singapore. If you need Chlorpheniramine, ask your doctor or pharmacist about availability in your area. I get mine from the doctor.

      I understand self medication is widely practiced in the West, but here we rely heavily on prescriptions. Because of this, people hardly understand what they’re taking. Thus this post to bring some awareness that medicine is not the ultimate solution.


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