A pediatrician said there’s no evidence cold and cough medicines work.
“These cold and cough medications have no consistent benefits. For most children, they’ll do nothing and the side effects are predictable,” said Dr. David Turkewitz, a pediatrician at WellSpan York Hospital in Pennsylvania.
Turkewitz said the FDA recommended years ago that parents stop giving cold and cough medicines to children under age 6.
“The more serious side effects particularly are going to be under age 2, and they include convulsions, serious arrhythmia of the heart, and even death,” he said.
Turkewitz said the medications don’t do much for adults, either. “What I can absolutely say is consistently, when you line people up and you look, the medications do not work,” he said.
Some of the medications include alcohol and antihistamines. “While it helps for an allergy runny nose, it doesn’t help for an infectious runny nose,” Turkewitz said.
There are other things you can do to treat cold symptoms, including taking acetaminophen, drinking lots of fluids, using saline nasal drops, and – for those 1 year and older – having honey.