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Cough Medicines a Bust?

Lung Experts: No Evidence Over-the-Counter Cough Medicines Work; May Be Harmful in Kids

Whooping Cough Shot for Adults

The revised guidelines represent the most comprehensive recommendations for the diagnosis and management of cough in adults and children ever published.

"People may think they have to put up with coughs, but they don't," Alberts says. "Coughing is a symptom that something is wrong, but it can be effectively treated with proper medical attention."

For the first time, the guidelines include a "strong recommendation" that adults up to age 65 receive booster vaccinations for whooping cough.

Known medically as pertussis, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection characterized by coughing so violent that it can lead to choking, vomiting, passing out, and even broken ribs.

Children are routinely vaccinated against the disease, but older versions of the vaccine were too dangerous for use in adults because they could potentially cause serious central nervous system side effects.

Last year, however, the FDA approved a new version of the vaccine that testing has shown to be both safe and effective for use by children over the age of 10 and adults under the age of 65.

The revised guidelines call for adults aged 64 and under to get the booster pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria vaccine every 10 years.

The hope, Irwin says, is that whooping cough can be eradicated in the same way that polio was several generations ago.

"Whooping cough is thought of as a kid's disease, but 28% of cases occur in adults," Irwin says. "A study in my state of Massachusetts showed that 40% of coughs severe enough to send patients to the ER were caused by pertussis."

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