One of the most troublesome symptoms of the common cold is the cough.
The first step in treating a cough is determining what type of cough one has. A “non-productive” cough makes a dry, hacking sound and is often associated with a “tickle” in the throat that doesn’t go away. A “productive cough” is associated with a large amount of phlegm production.
Treatment of non-productive coughs is best accomplished by cough suppressants, which suppress the cough reflex. Productive coughs are treated with an expectorant, which makes the phlegm more fluid-like and easier to remove by coughing.
When choosing a cough medication, it is important to remember what type of cough is being treated. Many products contain several different medications that may not be necessary to treat every cough. Additionally, combination products are often more expensive and may cause more side effects.
Some cough syrups may contain large amounts of alcohol and sugar, which is a health concern for small children and for people with diabetes. The safest and most effective treatment for a cold, especially in young children, is plenty of rest and fluids. Consult with a pharmacist for a specific product to treat coughs.