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Who coughed?

WHO COUGHED?

In the megabuck world of over-the-counter drugs, there is probably no more bewildering array of products for a single symptom than that for cough relief. The manufacturer of one wellknown line of cough syrups has even come out with single-dose bottles of the stuff that can be conveniently carried in one's purse or briefcase--as if no one is clever enough to pour a dose or two into a small container from the family-size bottle.

Because the cough reflex has a purpose--i.e., to get rid of things that dont belong in our respiratory tracts--one's choice of cough remedy should be determined by a cough's type and cause. If the cause is something external, the obvious solution is to avoid the irritant. (For instance, if smoking produces a cough, get rid of the cigarettes. Come to think of it, if smoking doesn't produce a cough, get rid of the cigarettes.) Essentially, cough come in two types--those in which excess mucous secretions are being produced in the bronchial tree and those in which they are not. A medication to suppress the cough should be used only for the latter type--i.e., the dry cough. When mucous secretions are the cause, the medication is directed at the cause rather than the cough itself, which enables one to get rid of the secretions.

For the dry cough, choose a preparation containing dextromorphan, an excellent suppressant. For a cough to be effective in removing excess secretions, the sputum must be thin enough for the cough to move it easily through the bronchial tree. If the sputum is very thick, select a preparation containing guaifenesin. If it's somewhere in-between, no medication is necessary. Simply take plenty of fluids and be glad you can cough up that miserable gunk in your luns and get rid of it.

One final word--note the alcohol content. Some cough medicines contain as much as 20 percent alcohol and should therefore not be used for infants or small children.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:medicating the common cough
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Words:329
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