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Cough syrup

Cough and Cold Syrups: Why Bother?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 by: Lynn Berry
Tags: cough syrup, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Parents in Australia will now need a prescription to buy cough and cold syrups for any child under two. This is because of findings that the syrups are of little benefit in soothing coughs and of the potential harm. As a result, the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee have decided to reschedule the drugs. (1)

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has supported the move and has also taken notice of findings in the U.K. and the U.S. of possible safety issues when cough or cold syrups are used inappropriately or when they are given in doses greater than the recommended. Possible side effects include insomnia, hallucinations, agitation and over-sedation.

Parents believe that using the syrups to help their child sleep is good for them. However this has been criticised by pediatrician Dr. Madlen Gazarian who does not believe in using the syrups to put children to sleep. She supported the findings of the committee that there were no clear benefits in using the syrups and therefore that the risks override the benefits. (2)

Dr. Gazarian, of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, says that using the syrups do not treat the underlying symptoms of coughs and colds. She said most cough and colds were due to viral illnesses and that ensuring the child had rest and plenty of liquids was important for recovery.

Another problem in using the syrups is that they have sedative effects and can mask signs of serious illness. Such signs include drowsiness and so the use of the syrups can delay recognition of the need for prompt treatment.

Brands of cough and cold syrups affected by the rescheduling include Dimetapp, Demazin, Actifed and Benadryl.

Recognition by the committee of the need to restrict access to cough and cold syrups follows the U.S. FDA warning in January this year to parents not to use such syrups for children under 2. This was due to adverse reactions including convulsions, rapid heart beat and death. US Centre for Disease Control found that were over 1500 emergency hospitalisations as well as three deaths among young children. (1)

The Director of respiratory medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Colin Robertson, said that the syrups should be completely withdrawn and expressed concern on the use of the syrups for children over 2. (1)

All this has taken a long time. Mike Adams back in 2004 wrote that cough syrup is "medically useless" and claimed that they existed purely to make profits. (3)

Dimetapp, a brand of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare (www.wyethconsumer.com.au) lists ingredients sodium benzoate, saccharin sodium, alcohol, sorbitol (16.8g/40mL), warning that sorbitol may have a laxative effect or cause diarrhoea, and elsewhere claims that Dimetapp contains a decongestant containing phenylephrine (www.dimetapp.com.au) .

Saccharin is an artificial sweetner and has been linked to cancers, and sorbitol, which is a polyol, can affect the intestines as pointed out by Cathy Sherman (www.naturalnews.com/022650.html) .

A list of natural recipes to treat children's coughs and colds is given by Leslee Dru Browning on the NaturalNews site (www.naturalnews.com/022372.html) .

The medical advice is that the cough and cold syrups are ineffective which means there is no reason to use them. Look for safer ways to ease the symptoms of coughs and colds in your children and consider preventative methods to build stronger immune systems.


1. (www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,...)

2. Sydney Morning Herald Thursday April 10, 2008 (smh.com.au)

3. (www.naturalnews.com/001275.html)

About the author

Lynn Berry is passionate about personal development, natural health care, justice and spirituality. She has a website at www.lynn-berry.com.

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