Cough Up Money for Cough Medicine
Coughing is the number-one reason people go to the doctor, spending an estimated $3 million a year on non-prescription cough remedies. Now, the American Academy of Chest Physicians says patients may be wasting their time and money.
A panel of doctors looked at all studies.
"And found very little evidence for the efficacy of these over-the-counter cough preparations for cough due to the common cold," noted Dr. Richard Irwin of the University of Massachusetts.
In most cases, doctors say, a cough unrelated to a chronic condition or the environment will go away by itself, so the medicine makes no difference.
"With a quick cold, it's probably going to resolve in a day or two anyway," explained Dr. Jordan Josephson. "So, what you may be seeing is the resolution that's normal."
The only exception is medicine containing antihistamines that will dry up congestion that causes the cough. But, most cough medicines don't have antihistamines because they make people drowsy. Despite the studies, some people say they'll keep using the usual remedies.
"I believe over-the-counter stuff will work almost all the time."
"I feel like it helps me personally, yes, and we have a young child. We give it to our daughter. It seems to help her."
The trade group for makers of over-the-counter medicines, and the Food and Drug Administration, support using the products.
But doctors also say a cough can be good for you, because it helps rid the lungs of infection.