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Cough remedies

Cough remedies are preparations containing various drugs used to treat coughing.

Common drugs

Cough remedies
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  • Codeine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Guaifenesin
  • Pholcodine

Coughing is a natural reflex action that helps to clear the lungs of sputum produced by infections. The effectiveness of cough medicines is doubtful, which is why doctors rarely prescribe them for minor respiratory disorders. However, there are many cough remedies that are available over the counter. Almost all of these remedies are syrups to which a variety of drugs and flavourings have been added. Most of these preparations are of little medicinal value, although some may have soothing properties.

The main groups of drugs used to treat coughs are expectorants, mucolytics, and suppressants. Expectorants are supposed to encourage productive coughs (which produce sputum), but their benefit is not proven.

Mucolytic preparations make sputum less sticky and easier to cough up, but they are of little benefit to most people. However, mucolytic drugs are used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition in which large amounts of abnormally thick, sticky sputum are produced.

Cough suppressant remedies, which often contain drugs such as codeine or pholcodine, are usually effective in relieving a troublesome cough. These drugs can cause drowsiness, which may be helpful if a cough interrupts sleep at night. However, if you feel drowsy after taking the drugs, you should not drive or operate machinery. Cough suppressants should be taken according to your doctor's or the manufacturer's instructions. The use of suppressants is not advised for a cough that is producing large amounts of sputum because preventing the expulsion of sputum can delay recovery from an infection.

Posted 09.09.2010


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