Cough Medicine

Dr Harry Morrow Brown’s warning about pholcodine in last month’s FM prompted John Scott to have a look on the web where he found that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were expressing concern about the safety and lack of clinically proven evidence regarding the effectiveness of many over-the-counter cough medicines for children under 12. Allergies aside there is a major risk of dangerous, sometimes fatal, overdoses.

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Meanwhile, at Penn State College of Medicine, Dr Ian M. Paul, and his team carried out a study on 105 children from two to twelve suffering from upper respiratory tract infections. Thirty-five of them were randomly selected to receive, 30 minutes before bedtime, a dose of honey, 33 were given dextromethorphan (an OTC cough medicine), while the other 37 were given nothing. Their parents had to fill in a survey assessing their child's cough and sleep difficulty twice – once for the night before treatment, and then again for the night with treatment.
The researchers found that honey helped children the most by far, followed by dextromethorphan, alleviating the cough frequency and severity and improving both the child's and the parents' sleep.

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First Published in March 2006

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