Monday, July 12, 2004

Does cough syrup help?

When I was a kid, I slept over one night at the home of a friend whose mother was a nurse. I woke up in the wee hours with a terrible cough, but rather than give me some over-the-counter medication, nurse-mom gave me a big spoonful of honey. She claimed that in her experience, honey and pancake syrup were as effective as medicine in quelling coughs, and sure enough, I was soon tucked in my sleeping bag, fast asleep. That same sort of parenting wisdom seems to be reflected in a recent study claiming that cough syrup is an entirely ineffective product; it doesn't stop coughing, it doesn't help a child sleep, and it doesn't help parents sleep. The research from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine claims that OTC products were no more effective than placebos ... yet it seems to me that I've used cough syrup with my kids, and that it's bought us some no-cough time, and certainly allowed them and us to sleep. What's been your experience with cough medicine? If those placebos were as effective as my friend's mom's spoonful of honey, maybe this stuff all works very well indeed.

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