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Evidence Scant for Treatment of Cough With the Common Cold

Update recommends against nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents for adults, codeine for children

man coughing

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- There has been little change in the treatment recommendations for cough due to the common cold since publication of guidelines in 2006, according to a review published online Nov. 7 in Chest.

Mark A. Malesker, Pharm.D., from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to update the recommendations on management of cough associated with the common cold. They identified six systematic reviews and four primary studies (with data on 6,496 participants) and noted that the evidence is of low quality overall.

Their recommendations include: 1) For adult and pediatric patients with cough due to the common cold, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used unless they have been shown to make cough less severe or resolve sooner; 2) in adult patients with cough due to the common cold, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents is not suggested; 3) in pediatric patients (aged 1-18 years), honey may offer more relief for cough symptoms than no treatment, diphenhydramine, or placebo, but it is not better than dextromethorphan, which should not be administered in children less than age 2; 4) pediatric patients should not use codeine-containing medications because of the potential for serious side effects.

"Cold symptoms are one of the most common reasons for seeking medical attention and cough is one of the most irritating and persistent cold symptoms. We have reviewed the available literature and, when possible, provided treatment recommendations," write the authors.

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