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Honey May Help Relieve Children's Cough (Interview with Dr. Ian Paul, MD, MSc)
Honey May Help Relieve Children

(December 3, 2007 - Insidermedicine) Giving children honey can help relieve nighttime cough symptoms associated with a cold better than over-the-counter cough medicine, according to a study published in this month’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Here is some facts about managing colds and coughs in children:

•    Over-the-counter cold and cough medications and acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol®) do not shorten the duration of colds.

•    Cold or cough medications are not recommended for patients under the age of 2 years.

•    For children over two years, cold and cough medications should be used very sparingly, if at all. If they are to be used, it is important to follow directions on the product label very carefully.

Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine asked the parents of over 100 children aged 2 to 18 with colds to give their children honey, the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan, or nothing at all 30 minutes before the children went to bed. All the children had been ill for a week or less and were suffering from nighttime cold symptoms. The parents filled out a survey about their children’s cold symptoms the night before and the night after treatment.

Overall, honey was found to be more effective at suppressing the children’s cough and helping them sleep than either dextromethorphan or no treatment. In addition, dextromethorphan was no better than no treatment at all in terms of controlling the children’s cough.

This research highlights the benefits of honey, which is believed to be safe for children at least one year of age, for controlling nighttime coughing associated with a cold. It also provides additional evidence, on top of that which has already been collected, that dextromethorphan is not a useful cough suppressant for children.

For Insidermedicine in Depth, I'm Maria Radina.