Over-the-counter medicines seem to be to work no much better than placebos. But there are several things you can certainly do for real relief.
No medicine cabinet is fully stocked without some good old cherry-flavored cough syrup-or at least that’s how it feels during cold and flu season. But does that stuff even work? This new video from the American Chemical Society (ACS) gives us the scoop. Spoiler alert: Not necessarily.
In theory, antitussive drugs (like Dextromethorphan, also known as DM or DXM) block the body’s cough reflex. Other common cough syrup ingredients include expectorants that thin mucus and make it better to cough; decongestants that open airways by narrowing blood vessels; and antihistamines that reduce swelling in the nose and throat.
But despite all that, most studies on the topic have found no evidence that over-the-counter cold medicines actually suppress or stop coughing. Oftentimes, they’ve performed no better when compared to a placebo.
Night time cough medicine
Coughing at night is your body’s way of getting foreign substances and mucus out of your lungs and upper airway passages. Coughs tend to be useful, and you should not try to stop them. Sometimes, though, coughs are severe enough to make breathing difficult, cause vomiting, or prevent rest. Home treatment can help you feel much more comfortable when you have a cough.
Drink fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Water can help loosen mucus and soothe an irritated throat. Dry, hacking coughs may react to honey in warm water, tea, or lemon juice. Will not give honey to children younger than 12 months of age.
Elevate your head with extra pillows during the night to ease a dry cough.
Try a cough drop to soothe an irritated throat. Expensive medicine-flavored cough drops aren’t much better than inexpensive candy-flavored ones or hard candy. Most cough drops have no impact on the cough-producing mechanism.
Quit smoking. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Avoid exposure to inhaled irritants, such as smoke, dust, or other pollutants, or wear a face mask that is acceptable for the exposure. There are many varieties of face masks. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine which types will give you the most benefit.
There is not enough evidence to find out whether cough medicine works. But some people may find them useful. Avoid cold remedies that incorporate medicines to treat many symptoms. It is generally better to treat each symptom separately. You will discover two varieties of cough medicines: expectorants and suppressants.
Expectorants may make it better to cough up mucus when you yourself have a productive cough.
Use an expectorant if you have a cough that produces thick mucus and you are experiencing difficulty coughing up the mucus.
Look for expectorants containing guaifenesin.
Suppressants may control or suppress the cough reflex and work best for a dry, hacking cough that keeps you awake.
Use cough suppressants wisely. Don’t suppress a productive cough too much, unless it keeps you from getting enough rest. Coughing pays because it brings up mucus from the lungs and really helps to prevent microbe infections.
If you have a dry, hacking cough that will not bring anything up, ask your personal doctor about an effective cough suppressant medicine.
If you have sore muscles from coughing a lot, have someone massage your chest and back muscles a few times on a daily basis. Massage can reduce soreness and help you rest and relax better.