What do you do when you have a really bad cough? If you reach for the cough medicine, you’re not alone. Every year people spend billions of dollars on this stuff, but does any of it work? Coughing is a natural reflex that clears your airways of anything that’s not supposed to be in there. When an irritant floats into your nose or mouth, receptors in the airway send signals to your brain sounding the alarm, then another message is sent back to your diaphragm, and you cough at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. other mammals do this too. Ah, but what do you do when that cough becomes more than just annoying? If you were born in the 1800s, your old timey cough syrup might have consisted of morphine, alcohol, cannabis, chloroform, or even heroin. Fortunately, today’s cough medicines contain a number of more reasonable active ingredients. Depending on what you just picked up from the drugstore. One or more of these ingredients are probably in your cough medicine. antitussive like dextromethorphan, or de XM, are meant to block the cough reflex. They can also make you drowsy. That’s fine if you’re going to bed. That’s less fine if you need to drive anywhere or do anything else that doesn’t involve sleeping deeply. expectorants, like guaifenesin are designed to loosen and thin the mucus in your lungs, making it easier to cough out that gunk in your airways.
decongestants like ephedrine decongest, you by narrowing the blood vessels of the lung and nose, antihistamines like loratadine reduce swelling of the nose and throat and decrease the amount of gooey mucus that your lungs secrete. Okay, but does any of this stuff actually work? We looked at a few systematic reviews that asked this question.
We hear it reactions love us some systematic reviews since they analyze evidence from lots of different studies in one place their results. There’s very little evidence that cough syrup is effective at treating coughs and carefully performed clinical trials show that these medications are generally no better than a placebo in one review 15 out of 19 studies analyzed either showed no benefit or the results were conflicting. Other reviews had similar findings. The researchers said that there is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of over-the-counter medicines and acute cough. This is just one of those more research is needed type situations. So, there’s no guarantee that cough syrup will do anything for your cough, though it could help you get a better night’s sleep. Just don’t try and fix things by taking a larger dose seriously do not do this.
large doses of DSM can cause dizziness, uncontrollable eye movement, convulsions and even death. It’s especially dangerous for young children. 1000s of kids are sent to the emergency room every year because of accidental overdoses on cough medicine. And before you ask apart from any placebo effect treatments with akinesia vitamin C or zinc will probably not help your cough either. Bummer. But there are some oldies but goodies that can help you get through your hacking cough. Drink plenty of fluid that should help thin out extra mucus and reduce your cough reflex. A humidifier or a steamy shower also helps reduce congestion. cough drops can get the saliva flowing, which can soothe your irritated throat. Although sucking on regular old hard candy works just as well. What about honey and lemon? That there’s not a lot of research on its effectiveness on coughs. A small number of studies do suggest some potential benefit over not doing anything. And it has been reported to help relieve coughing kids by soothing the back of the throat and it tastes great, especially in hot tea. Teatime. The good news is that most coughs will go away after a week or two without any treatment. But if that cough lasts more than a few weeks, see your doctor.
Do you have a cough remedy that you swear by? Let us know in the comments.