If you are the type that has a frequent night cough, you will have no choice but to seek the best cough medication.
Although a nasty cough can annoy, it is still a way of expelling irritants from the lungs.
Cough from the common cold heals naturally or with home remedies. But while the symptoms last, some cough medications can help soothe them faster.
What are cough medications?
Cough medicines are over-the-counter drugs or natural remedies that can ease cough symptoms.
Cough drugs are used by many people to relieve coughs, however, there is little evidence to show they are better than homemade drugs containing honey and lemon juice.
Types of cough medications
Five types of cough medicines exist, they include
- Pain killers.
Antitussives: They are suppressant drugs used to treat dry cough. It works by blocking your urge to cough.
Dextromethorphan and codeine are the most common suppressants.
Expectorants: Expectorant helps loosen your thick mucus so you can cough up the phlegm. It is used to treat productive coughs. Examples are guaifenesin, squill, and ammonium chloride.
Decongestants: It helps to loosen thick mucus in your nose. Examples are oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, phenylephrine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, etc.
Antihistamines: This helps to stop sneezing and runny nose. Examples include brompheniramine, doxylamine, diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, promethazine, etc.
Which is the best cough medicine?
The best cough medication depends on the cough you are having.
If you are having a dry cough, a suppressant drug-containing dextromethorphan or codeine will be ok for you.
But if you are suffering from a chesty or productive cough, an expectorant drug-like guaifenesin will thin the mucus.
Cough medication for a one-year-old baby
A child of one-year-old or less doesn’t need over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine; it slows their breathing rate, causing a life-threatening condition (1).
Instead, allow the cough to heal naturally since virus-induced coughs heal within 3 weeks. Or better still, apply home remedies like.
- Give him some hot fluids
- Run a humidifier
- Use saline water.
Note: Never give honey to an infant of one year or less, it may cause infant botulism.
Cough medicine for toddlers
A toddler is a child of 1-3 years. 95% of their coughs come from viral infections.
And since viruses don’t respond to OTC treatment, plus the side effects it poses, caregivers should avoid using it on toddlers.
Instead, use these home remedies.
Ivy leaf extract
Ivy extract can be effective in controlling children’s cough. This is because of the saponins it contains.
In one study to confirm its safety and effectiveness, 268 toddlers with cough symptoms were grouped and treated with extracts for 14 days.
At the end of the study, the cough symptoms were absent in 97% cases and were 100% safe.
Honey has antimicrobial properties, it also soothes cough symptoms.
A spoonful of honey calms a coughing child, and its efficacy equal to OTC cough drugs (2).
However, you shouldn’t give it to a child under one year.
You can rub this on the child’s body, or dissolve it in hot water. Gas from the rub when inhaled can ease cough symptoms. But not for children under one year.
Run a humidifier
Dry air can cause a dry cough. Humidifiers add more mist to the air to calm congestion, coughs, and sore throats.
Always run a humidifier if your baby has a cough, and also open your window in the morning, to release the mist, to avoid mold formation.
Serve him with hot fluids
Hot fluids help in soothing cough symptoms, always serve him with it if the symptoms come.
Cough medications for children from 6 years and above.
A child of six years and above can take over-the-counter cough medicine with no effect. But it is always better to apply home remedies since they do the same work.
But if you must use OTC, always follow the guidelines to avoid taking an overdose.
Cough medicine in pregnancy
While you are pregnant, a nagging cough may come your way. Although it may be stressful, it will surely go.
But while the symptoms last, apply home remedies such as
- Having enough rest
- Taking hot fluids
- Use a humidifier
- Gargle with saltwater
For more options on natural remedies, read homemade cough remedies.
Over-the-counter cough medicine is also safe during pregnancy if used for a short period, at a recommended dose (3).
Is cough medicine safe while breastfeeding?
Yes, OTC is safe. But its safety depends on the quantity of milk taken by the baby, the time of breastfeeding in relation to dosing, the dose of the medication, dosing interval, and duration of treatment.
And since cough medications pass into the milk, mothers should take their medications after breastfeeding, at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest time (4).
Which cough medications can I take with high blood pressure?
People with HBP should be careful while making a choice of OTC cough drugs, this is because of the side effects some cause.
Decongestants ease nasal congestion by narrowing the blood vessels, this, in return, increases the blood pressure.
To maintain normal BP, avoid medications made with decongestants such as
Look for drugs made for people with HBP and also check the sodium level to be sure it is below 1500mg, take it according to the instructions on the label (5).
You can also resort to homemade cough remedies.
A cough is a reflex response to irritations, It can rarely be a sign of something serious.
When you develop cough symptoms, 95% of it will go naturally. But if you wish to ease the symptoms with cough medicines, go for the right one.
There are medications for chesty and dry coughs, just choose according to your cough. Or better still, make use of home remedies.