Coughing children are a big problem. They can’t sleep. They keep their parents awake. They sound dreadful. They cough so hard they barf (ick).
Every parent, at some time, comes to me desperately seeking a cure for their child’s cough. The children are usually desperate too, though after his mom told me that he had coughed for a month, one patient of mine seemed quite gleeful, exclaiming “And I have snot rockets!”
What can a sleep-deprived parent do to help the hacking little one? Isn’t there a medicine to stop that cough?
The marketers of cough and cold medications would like you to think so. Take a tour of the cough and cold aisle in your local drugstore and you will see some very seductive terms: cough syrups are marketed as “mucolytics” (break down that disgusting thick sludge in your lungs!), “expectorants” (out, out, damn goo), and “suppressants” (STOP that painful, hacking cough.) True, “seductive” may be a strange descriptor when discussing snot, but these terms can be very tantalizing to a frantic parent whose kid is hacking up a lung.
A sure fire cough remedy, however, is not as easy to find as these product descriptions would suggest. Continue reading