Two ingredients commonly used in cough syrup are no better than sugar water in suppressing night-time coughing in children, according to a study published Tuesday.
The two ingredients are dextromethorphan — often listed on labels as “DM” — and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. The former is the most common nonprescription cough suppressant on the U.S. market, and commonly abused by adolescents who try to get high on cough medicine.
“Our study showed that the two ingredients used in most over-the-counter medications were no better than a placebo … in providing night time relief for children with cough and sleep difficulty as a result of upper respiratory infection,” he added.
Asked what parents should do, Paul said “my advice has been to do things that are harmless but could help — saline nose drops, good hydration and humidified air.”