What Over-The-Counter Medicines Help With COVID-19 Symptoms?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: January 21, 2021

While the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the country, the good news is most mild cases can be treated right at home, in the same way you would treat a common cold. Many of the same things you do to feel better when you have a cold or the flu--such as resting, drinking fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications--help ease COVID-19 symptoms too. While there currently are no approved at-home treatments for COVID-19, some symptoms might be managed with over-the-counter medications and supplements. So, for those with confirmed COVID-19 infection, which medicines are a good idea to have in your medicine cabinet to help ease symptoms?

Antacids
Americans are stocking up on antacid medication as they fight the effects of worry and stress brought on by the pandemic. But some are stocking up for another reason. Two preliminary studies suggest famotidine could reduce the symptoms of coronavirus. Famotidine is a common over-the-counter medication sold under brand names such as Pepcid. While the FDA has only approved famotidine as a heartburn treatment, an observational study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that patients receiving famotidine either orally or intravenously had a lower risk of death and were less likely to be intubated if hospitalized. Another study of hospital patients showed that those given famotidine during their stay—either orally or intravenously—had lower in-hospital mortality rates and were less likely to need a ventilator during treatment. Researchers are eager to learn more, and more clinical trials are underway.

Please note, these studies were conducted in hospitalized patients, so if you are thinking of trying famotidine for your COVID-19 infection that you are treating at home, talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider first.

Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen, sold under the names Advil and Motrin, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that helps lower fever and minimizes muscle aches. It could also reduce inflammation in your body. However, it is important that Ibuprofen be taken only at the recommended dose. NSAIDs may also raise blood pressure, so the American Heart Association says that people with heart concerns should limit or avoid NSAIDs.

Acetaminophen
Sold under the brand name Tylenol, Acetaminophen can help control fever and manage pain, headaches, and body aches caused by COVID-19.

Aspirin
Aspirin is another common over-the-counter medication provided to patients during COVID-19 treatment. Aspirin may help reduce low-grade fevers. It is also known to interfere with blood’s clotting action, which may help since some COVID-19 patients have suffered from clotting and pulmonary embolism.

You may want to stick with your preferred pain reliever for treatment. It is important to note that all pain relievers treat the same symptoms, so it is important to not mix pain relievers without talking to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Cough Medicine
If you are looking for a cough suppressant, look for the ingredient dextromethorphan, available in more than 120 cough and cold products, including Delsym and Robitussin. Cough suppressants work by decreasing activity in the brain that causes the cough.

Before taking any medication, consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for individual advice regarding treatment, dosage, and use of over-the-counter medicines.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.