A child's cough usually sounds worse during the night. If you have kids, you've probably made a late night run to the pharmacy to try to soothe that hacking cough.
A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics adds to a growing body of evidence that over the counter cough syrups are really a waste of time and money.
"If I had to summarize what you should do with over the counter cold remedies, it would be to leave them in the store and don't bring them home because they probably don't do any good at all for your children," says Dr. Michael Macknin, a pediatrician.
The latest study of 100 coughing children finds those who got over the counter remedies containing either Dextromethorphan or Diphenhydramine before bedtime didn't stop coughing any sooner than kids who got a sugar syrup. The study also found the cough syrups didn't help improve quality of sleep.
Some children reacted to an ingredient that made them drowsy, but others who took cough medicine with Dextromethorphan were more likely to have insomnia as a side effect. The good news is all the children in the study got better in a couple of nights, suggesting that time may be the best prescription for kids.
The study researchers suggest the best therapy includes plenty of fluids, a humidifier, and patience. Of course, we're talking about kids with minor respiratory trouble. The study didn't look at kids with severe or chronic conditions.
If a cough persists, you should talk to your pediatrician.