Cough medicine is medications used in those with coughing and related conditions. There is, however, no good evidence that over-the-counter cough medications reduce coughing. While they are used by 10% of American children in any given week, they are not recommended in Canada and the United States in children 6 years or younger because of lack of evidence showing effect and concerns of harm.
Types of Cough Medicine
There are a number of a different cough and cold medications, which may be used for various coughing symptoms. The commercially available products may include various combinations of any one or more of the following five types of substances:
- Mucokinetics, or mucolytics, are a class of drugs which aid in the clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea. Examples are carbocisteine, ambroxol, and bromhexine.
- Expectorants are substances claimed to make coughing easier while enhancing the production of mucus and phlegm. Two examples are acetylcysteine and guaifenesin.
- Antitussives, or cough suppressants, are substances which suppress the coughing itself. Examples are codeine, pholcodine, dextromethorphan, noscapine, and butamirate.
- Antihistamines, for allergic rhinitis, may produce mild sedation and reduce other associated symptoms, like a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples are diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, brompheniramine, loratadine, and cetirizine.
- Decongestants relieve nasal congestion and sinus infection. Examples are ephedrine, phenylephrine, and oxymetazoline.
- Also employed are various substances supposed to soften the coughing, like honey or supplement syrup.
Ingredients of Cough Medicine
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup raw honey
- ½ lemon, sliced
- ½ lime, sliced
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Purified water
- xanthan gum
- potassium sorbate
- citric acid
- honey flavor
Instructions of Cough Medicine
- In a small sauce pot over low heat, stir the vinegar and honey together until melted. Add lemon, lime, ginger, and rosemary and let steep for 1 hour until cool.
- Pour into glass jar and refrigerate until needed – lasts a couple of months in the fridge!
- Use 2 ounces of herb mixture to 1 liter of water.
- Over low heat, simmer the liquid down to half a liter.
- Strain the herbs from the liquid and pour the liquid back into the pot.
- To each half liter, add 1 cup of sweetener (honey or vegetable glycerine).
- Warm the honey and liquid together, only enough to mix well. You can simmer for longer to thicken syrup if desired.
- When syrup is mixed, you can add a fruit concentrate to give it flavor, or a couple of drops of peppermint or spearmint oil.
- You can also add a bit of brandy to help preserve the liquid for a bit longer.
- Remove from heat and label. The syrup should be refrigerated and is best stored in a dark, glass bottle to avoid losing potency.
The dosage of Cough Medicine
1 teaspoon to children under 12; 1 tablespoon to adults as needed for symptoms.
Uses of Cough Medicine
- This combination medication is used to relieve coughs caused by the common cold, bronchitis, and other breathing illnesses. Guaifenesin belongs to a class of drugs known as expectorants.
- It works by thinning and loosening mucus in the airways, clearing congestion, and making breathing easier. Dextromethorphan belongs to a class of drugs known as cough suppressants. It acts on a part of the brain (cough center) to reduce the urge to cough.
- Cough-and-cold products have not been shown to be safe or effective in children younger than 6 years. Therefore, do not use this product to treat cold symptoms in children younger than 6 years unless specifically directed by the doctor. Some products (such as long-acting tablets/capsules) are not recommended for use in children younger than 12 years.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details about using your product safely.
This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.
It is not known if dextromethorphan passes into breast milk. If you are a breastfeeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breastfeeding. This medication should not be used by children under 6 years of age.