Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Common Questions About Cold and Flu Relief

What should I take for fever and aches?

A fever can actually be a good thing. It helps your body fight infections by keeping bacteria and viruses from growing and by turning on your immune system. Doctors say it’s fine to let a fever run its course for most people, except for the very young, the very old, and those with certain medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.

If you’re uncomfortable, it's OK to take medications. Young people (including those in their early 20s) should avoid aspirin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), ibuprofen (Advil and others), or naproxen (Aleve and others) are your best choices. Each has its own risks, so check with your doctor or pharmacist about the best choice for you.

Be careful not to take too much; other cough, cold, and flu medicines often have these drugs mixed in. Your pharmacist can help you avoid any overlap.

What's best for my sore throat?

First, try drinking lots of fluids and using salt water gargles (mix a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt). Some oral drugs (such as Tylenol), lozenges, sprays, and gargles with added medicine can also soothe a sore throat for the short term. Get your doctor's approval before using any medications, including over-the-counter drugs, and don't use them for more than a few days. The medications could mask signs of strep throat, a bacterial infection that you need to treat with antibiotics.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 14, 2014

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
blowing nose
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Health Check
Boy holding ear

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
Bacterial or Viral Infection
How To Calm Your Cough
Sore Throat