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Do Cough Medicines Work in Kids?

Study Shows Over-the-Counter Varieties Are No More Effective Than Placebo

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"I try to be empathetic because when a child is coughing all night, nobody sleeps," she says. "I am certainly not a proponent of giving cough and cold medications, but I tell my parents that if they are desperate to try something I will support them."

In these cases, Gunn recommends choosing an over-the-counter medication with a single active ingredient instead of one with multiple ingredients marketed for the relief of a host of cold-related symptoms. And she recommends limiting use of the medications to no more than three days.

"One child I wrote about suffered heart damage after being on a cough and cold drug for just over a week," she says. "The damage was repaired over time, but that is not something you want to expose your children to for no good reason."

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