Cough Medicine Controversy

Many doctors have declared war on cough medicines, saying the latter are ineffective and are often used inappropriately. Worse, they are also one of the most abused drugs in the country.

A 2006 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA showed that about 3.1 million people between the ages of 12 to 25 have used over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to get high.

“The abuse was highest among whites – at levels three times that of blacks. Overall, the level of abuse of these drugs is comparable to levels of use of LSD, methamphetamine or the drug ecstasy in this age group, the agency said. Among those ages 12 to 17, abuse of these drugs was most common among girls, while it shifted to young men among those 18 to 25,” said the MSNBC News Services.

“Among those surveyed who said they had misused one of these cough and cold medications in the past year, about 30 percent said they used a NyQuil brand product, 18 percent used a Coricidin product and 18 percent used a Robitussin product,” MSNBC added.

A common ingredient of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine is dextromethorpan or DMX that can cause dizziness, disorientation, blurred vision, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting when taken in large doses.

Drug companies don’t seem to mind the bad publicity cough medicines are getting and for a good reason. These products are earning billions of dollars world¬wide. In the United Kingdom, an estimated S275 million was spent on cough and cold remedies in 1991 alone. In that same year, Germans spent $547 million on self-medication with these products.

In spite of this gloomy picture, there is a good side to cough medicines. While I commend doctors’ efforts to protect consumers from dangerous drugs, the public should also be informed that certain coughs have to be treated, especially if they serve no purpose and interfere with sleep. What’s the best way to treat this kind of cough? What products work? How should they be used? This four part series will give you practical and medically sound guidelines on how to manage coughs.

It is said that if you dream of having a cough, it is a sign of impending disaster. That may be true in some cases for a cough is a symptom of many diseases. It should be brought to a doctor’s attention if it persists to rule out any underlying problem.

Coughing is the body’s way of clearing air passages of foreign matter and other secretions. In people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases, this kind of “productive” cough should not be suppressed. In most cases, drinking plenty of fluids -three to four pints a day or chicken soup – is all that’s required. That will help loosen phlegm.

“The cough is a protective reflex; it clears your breathing passes of secretions. As long as it accomplishes this task effectively, it is to be regarded as normal and even healthy,” said Dr. David E. Larson, editor-in-chief of the “Mayo Clinic Family Health Book.”

To strengthen your body, take Immunitril – your first line of defense in maintaining a healthy immune system. For details, visit (Next: Controlling cough).