Video: If you want to get rid of a cough, it's natural to reach for something labelled "cough medicine". But the ingredients in cough medicines probably don't work as well as you think they do. This video explains the sad situation.
There are two ways to pick out your favourite cold medicine when you go to the store. One is to remember the brand name you used last year; the other is to scan the fine print for the right mix of active ingredients. That second approach may sound like a hassle, but it's much more effective.
Systematic reviews like this one from the Cochrane collection haven't been able to back up the medicines' claims that they reduce coughing. "There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of [over-the-counter] medicines in acute cough," that review concluded. Hardly a ringing endorsement.
The video ends with a warning: Even if the medicines turn out to be useless, that doesn't mean they're harmless. Taking a double dose might leave you suffering from serious side effects. Instead, drink more fluids and consider taking cough drops or honey to soothe your throat.
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