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The latest update on cough and cold medications

About 1 in 10 (10.1%) American children take cough and cold medications each week. This is based on a survey conducted from 1999 to 2006. The most commonly used drugs were decongestants such as:

  1. pseudoephedrine (6.3%)
  2. antihistamines (86.3%)
  3. antitussives (84.1%)
  4. expectorants (1.5%).

The results of the survey were published in the August 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics. The data are highly significant after the side effects scare of the very same drugs last year which you can read in this post.

Another recent study reports a link between the use of OTC cough and cold medications and several unexpected infant deaths. The same study also found indications that parents tend not to follow the warnings and instructions on the medications.

This is one of the main reasons why researchers are looking for alternatives. A Canadian study published in the same journal reports about a promising testing of a natural health product (NHP) with ginseng extract as active ingredient. The NHP in question is COLD-fX, which has approved for cold and flu remedy for adults in Canada. However, it has never been tested in children before.

The study looked at 46 children aged between 3 and 12 years old who had upper respiratory tract infection and compared the side effects of ginseng extract vs a placebo. No major side effects were observed among kids who got the extract. However, although the NHP shows good safety profile, more tests are necessary before it can be routinely given to children.

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