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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Don't expect Cough syrup to cure cough !!

If winter comes, can cough be far behind !  .. in Tamil,  colloquially some call them lokku-lokku  lokarachi [the sound of coughing !] -   away from this and into Cricket -   remember Kaushal Samaraweera Lokuarachchi bowled leg spin for Sri Lanka.  He was part of their failed 2003 WC campaign – not a regular in the side,  he was arrested in a road accident killing a pedestrian, reportedly stated that he had fallen asleep at the wheels.  Later in  2014, Lokuarachchi was banned from Cricket for 18 months by the Bangladesh Premiere League Anti Corruption Tribunal for failing to report an approach by a bookie.

What would one do when afflicted by Cough ? ~ most people resort to Over the counter (OTC) drugs, which mostly makes people feel drowsy and sleepy.  There are suppressants, expectorants, and  some ointments even.   The strong-smelling vapours may ease the  cough and open up stuffy head.  There are lozenges, compressed tablets and vaporizers too. 

It's the news no one suffering from a terrible winter cold wants to hear – but cough medicines are virtually useless, scientists claim, reports Daily Mail ~ and here is it reproduced.

Nothing you can buy over the counter will ward off a hacking and persistent cough, a review of the evidence has found. Pharmacy cough medicines work little better than a placebo, while other remedies such as echinacea, vitamin C and zinc are not likely to help either. A review of studies on cough medicine found that in 15 of 19 cases, it either had no benefit or the results were conflicting. Researchers from the American Chemical Society said that, at best, all the expectorants and cough suppressants lining pharmacy shelves can offer is a good night’s sleep from drowsiness.

Pharmacy cough medicines work little better than a placebo, while other remedies such as echinacea, vitamin C and zinc are not likely to help either.  Only cough drops were proven to work, although boiled sweets would have the same throat-soothing effect, the experts said. Honey and lemon has also been found to help children with a cough, but it should only be given from the age of one.

In a video published online, the researchers said: ‘There is very little evidence that cough syrup is effective at treating coughs and carefully proofed clinical trials show that these medications are generally no better than placebo.’ The cough, cold and sore throat medicines market in Britain is worth more than £400million a year. Active ingredients include dextromethorphan (DXM), which blocks the cough reflex but can also make you very drowsy. Both Boots’ Dry Cough and Congestion Relief and Covonia’s Original Bronchial Balsam contain DXM. Also available are expectorants such as guaifenesin – used in Benylin Mucus Cough Plus Decongestant Syrup – which are said to loosen mucus in the chest. However, a respected Cochrane Review from 2014 also found ‘no good evidence for or against’ the use of over-the-counter cough syrups.

John Smith, chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which represents over-the-counter medicine manufacturers, said it was difficult to test the efficacy of ingredients because of the different types of cough. He added: ‘It’s important to remember that cough medicines will not “cure” a cough. ‘If used in accordance with the instructions ... then cough medicines are a safe way to help relieve the symptoms of a cough.’

Call it ‘middle class mentality’ – many of us feel greatly relieved buying a bottle of expectorant / tonic and taking a teaspoon in the night.  Miraculous cure is what we expect !!   the taste of  Ferradol,  taken in younger days lingers. It was marketed well as good to health containing calcium and zinc as supplement against -  Iron-deficiency anemia, and various salts or complexes of iron are used as haematinics.  

In 1990s in Kakinada, there were so many Medical representatives known.  On a particular day, this representative was speaking about ‘middle class mentality’ of mother going to Doctors seeking the Dr. to prescribe Ferradol or some other costly  iron tonics – paying the Dr fatly and feeling happy. He took a bottle of tonic, drank it in one gulp and continued – whole bottle would do nothing, while people believe that 1 tsp a day would do wonders to their health.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th Jan 2017.

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