Medicines for cough and runny nose Veselības projekti Latvijai

Medicines for cough and runny nose

Millions people worldwide catch a cold every year. Although there are no pharmaceutical remedies, which are approved by clinical studies as capable of curing it, much money is spent for ineffective remedies. 6 964 451 lats were spent for cold medicines in Latvia in 2008 and 3 834 248 lats in the initial 9 months of 2009.

One of the least effective components of such preparations is antihistamines, which are commonly included for making the mucosal edema reduced and breathing easier. Although antihistamines are effective in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, it is admitted in many scientific researches that they are not very effective in the treatment of colds.

Nasal decongestants, which are sold in the form of aerosols or drops, are also very popular. Although they give temporary relief, these preparations have the rebound effect - nasal obstruction may come back even stronger after the use. These medicines may prolong colds and the reuse can damage the nasal mucosa. In the British Medical Association (BMA), they consider that the use of such remedies is not an obligation in most cases of catching a cold. Moreover, if the medicines are used in the form of tablets, it narrows blood vessels throughout the body and raises blood pressure.

Generally, there are two types of cough medicines: expectorants and mucolitics, which liquefy sputum and encourage coughing up, and suppressants, which suppress the cough reflex. Unfortunately, there are no proofs that expectorants are really effective. In turn, suppressants, such as codeine or dextromethorphan, are rarely strong enough to be effective, but they all tend to cause constipation. It should be also pointed out that cough is a protective reflex of the body and not always should be suppressed.

Recent researches show that these medicines should not be given to the children at the age under 6 years.

In cases of catching a cold, the following ordinary remedies and approaches are helpful:

  • the use of liquid in sufficient amount;
  • for reducing cough – warm lemon water with honey (for the children over one year old);
  • for runny nose – saline nasal drops;
  • for reducing temperature – ibuprofen and paracetamol.

If such treatment does not bring relief within 3-5 days, one should consult a physician.


The following medicines, which are often included in the cold medicines arsenal, SHOULD NOT be used by children at the age under 6 years:

  • cough remedies: dextromethorphan and pholcodine;
  • expectorants: guaifenesin and ipecacuanha;
  • nasal decongestants: ephedrine, oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine and xylometazoline;
  • antihistamines: chlorphenamine, diphenhydramine and triprolidine.

When citing, reference to the Society Veselības projekti Latvijai is obligatory.