September 11, 2010
School of Pharmacy, Kochi
The excessive use of cough medicines is prevalent in India, but one should remember the fact that many ingredients in such medicines are not backed by scientific investigations. One can buy many of these medicines over the counter, without even a doctor’s prescription, and this signals a dangerous trend.
Such facts were discussed by Ms. Leena Thomas, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, at the Amrita School of Pharmacy in her article in Malayalam titled While Using Medicines for Cough.
Published in the magazine, Aarogyam, a well-known general health and wellness monthly, published by the Malayala Manorama group, the article will be read by individuals and families wanting to keep fit and have a healthy life style. Thousands subscribe to Aarogyam, which publishes contributions from eminent doctors and experts in respective areas of medicine.
“Cough is not a disease; it is only a symptom,” Ms. Thomas emphasized in her article. “It actually helps prevent harmful materials from entering into the lungs. One can go in for self treatment if the presence of sputum is not seen in a cough. In this case, a cough suppressant may be effective.”
“If, however, there is a large amount of sputum, then coughing is a symptom of lung infection. This indicates that one needs to consult a doctor and take prescribed medicines. A cough may sometimes indicate TB or cancer, but in most cases a cough will disappear within one week.”
“Many cough medicines are available over the counter. Ingredients in these medicines may not have any scientific basis and thus may not be effective. They can even prove harmful to people with heart disorders; hence, one should consult a doctor before taking the medicines.”
“For instance, the ingredient Codeine may cause problems in small children. Attractive packaging and sweetening tends to make cough syrup seem attractive to children, who may take it in excessive quantities. If Codeine intake in children is increased, sleep and breathing disorders may result.”
“Codeine reduces cough without sputum. It actually affects the brain, helping to reduce cough, but since it works on the brain, it may sometimes cause other health problems. A person may become addicted if the intake exceeds a certain limit.”
Ms. Thomas underlined additional points in her article.
“There is a tendency to take cough medicines in greater amounts and this can harm the body, depending on the amount ingested and type of ingredients.”
“It’s better to avoid driving after taking these medicines as they can make one sleepy, due to presence of ingredients that reduce allergies.”