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When A Cough Suppressant Is Needed

June 18, 2013

There are always times of the year when it seems like everyone gets sick. Then, it can be super overwhelming when you walk into the pharmacy and look for some medicine to make yourself feel better. There are aisles and aisles of different products, all wrapped in bright, shiny packages. So for those times when you are looking for good cough suppressants, there are some facts you should know.

cough syrupFor the most part, when you are suffering from a cough, doctors don’t generally recommend that you take medicine for it unless it is keeping you from sleeping at night or interfering with your daily activities. Coughing is part of the body’s defense by clearing your lungs of mucus and debris. There are also some possible interactions between common antidepressants with the main ingredient in most cough medications.

When looking for the best cough suppressant, it is important to understand how it works. Additionally, you should always be aware of what the side effects can be and in what cases should you notify your physician.

The main ingredient in cough medications is dextromethorphan. This medication is most effective for a dry, hacking cough, most often caused by minor throat and bronchial irritation such as from a cold or an inhaled irritant. People still take the medication for other types of coughs, but again unless it is interfering with your activities, it is your body trying to clear your lungs.

It works by temporarily reducing the cough reflex. For this reason, it is very important that you learn the proper dosing instructions and take care not to take more than the maximum number of doses recommended.

A type of cough medication is expectorants. This is best for productive coughs – it thins the mucus that is in your lungs so you can cough it up easier. Once this mucus is thinned and cleared, generally the cough will go away – until then, it can actually cause you to cough more. Occasionally, people find nausea and vomiting as a side effect.

Some people turn to topical medications to help ease a cough such as camphor and menthol. These are rubbed on the chest and neck and the aroma vapors ease coughs and sooth stuffiness. These medications are also used in inhaler machines and can be found in tablets.

There are some coughs that are caused when mucus drains to the back of your throat from your nose. Generally, coughs of this nature are best relieved by a decongestant and an antihistamine. It doesn’t actually help with your cough but it eliminates the source of the problem, which in turn will eliminate the cough.

This combination can have some side effects. The most common side effect is anxiety. So you will need to weigh your options, what is keeping you up at night: the post nasal drip or the anxiety caused from the medication? Other side effects that have been noted are dizziness and drowsiness – in cases of overdose, extreme dizziness, shallow breathing, and coma can result.

Lastly, you could see combination cough and cold medications in the pharmacy. They contain a natural cough suppressant, plus an expectorant and other cold medicines and pain relievers. This is ideally for those suffering from multiple symptoms and ailments. Some of the cons of taking one of these medications is not knowing whether you actually need every ingredient it contains.

man coughingDoctors also recommend to abstain from cough suppressants if you are suffering from a cough due to smoking, emphysema, bronchitis, or asthma.

They should also be consulted before given to children or infants. Additionally, if you continue to have a lingering cough, this could be an indication of a serious medical problem. If you have one that lasts more than a week or have other symptoms such as fever, headache, or sore throat, consult your doctor.

In cases with teenagers, it would be wise to monitor their behavior because some of the cough medications have recently become drugs of choice for groups of young people. While none of these products of themselves are addictive, they can have toxic affects if misused. For this reason, some facilities have made a choice not to sell to minors any of the OTC medications for cough and cold.

In some cases, your doctor will need to prescribe you a stronger medication; maybe one that contains codeine or hydromorphone. Or perhaps the underlying cause simply needs to be identified and the problem can be solved in that manner.

It is never fun when we get sick and feel bad – but with proper research and information on the topic you can make an educated, safe decision on which medication is most appropriate for your situation. As with all medications, caution is needed as well as frank, open communication with your physician.