Well­ness Arti­cles

Cough Med­i­cine Doesn’t Work, May Harm Kids

The above head­line comes from Fox News and is just one of the many sto­ries appear­ing in the press based on new guide­lines pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Chest Physi­cians in the Jan­u­ary 2006 issue of their jour­nal Chest. The guide­lines were also endorsed by the Amer­i­can Tho­racic Soci­ety and the Cana­dian Tho­racic Soci­ety. In a Jan­u­ary 9, 2006 USA Today story on the guide­lines, it was reported that nearly 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans visit doc­tors for coughs each year.

Richard D. Irwin, MD, guide­lines com­mit­tee chair and pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts Med­ical School, stated, “There is no clin­i­cal evi­dence that over-​the-​counter cough expec­to­rants or sup­pres­sants actu­ally relieve cough.” Dr. Irwin also noted, “Over the Counter cough med­i­cines have been shown to have a strong placebo effect, and coughs due to colds even­tu­ally go away on their own.”

The rec­om­men­da­tions con­cern­ing chil­dren were even stronger. “Cough and cold med­i­cines are not use­ful in chil­dren and can actu­ally be harm­ful.” stated Irwin. He con­tin­ued, “In most cases, a cough that is unre­lated to chronic lung con­di­tions, envi­ron­men­tal influ­ences, or other spe­cific fac­tors, will resolve on its own.”

The Fox News arti­cle reported that there have been very few stud­ies done on over-​the-​counter cough med­i­cines. They also pointed out that most of the stud­ies were con­ducted decades ago and involved nar­cotic prod­ucts con­tain­ing codeine.

William Bren­dle Glomb, MD, a pedi­atric lung spe­cial­ist who helped write the guide­lines said, “There are big holes in the sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture, and this is one of them. These prod­ucts just haven’t been studied.”

Ran­dom Article

Reuters news ser­vice reported in the Octo­ber 25, 1999 issue of USA Today that a US fed­eral health panel has with­drawn its recommendation

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