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Children are more susceptible than adults to upper respiratory infections, and the average child may experience several each year. Nagging symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and cough often accompany such infections, but experts point out that most over-the-counter cough medications have not been proven to be particularly effective for kid’s cough, which, paired with questions that have been raised in recent years about whether they are safe for small children, make alternatives welcome news.
In this study, 139 children ages 24 months to 60 months with an upper respiratory infection were randomly assigned to one of four treatments before bed: honey, dextromethorphan (a common cough suppressant), diphenhydramine (an antihistamine), or normal parental care only. Before the intervention and 24 hours after, mothers of the children filled out a questionnaire with questions about the child’s cough frequency and severity, and the sleep quality of both kids and parents. Results showed:
The study authors comment that their study confirms prior findings that have shown the beneficial effects of honey on nighttime cough. Chief Science Editor Alan Gaby, MD, of Aisle7 comments, “Parents should remember that when a child has an upper respiratory infection, coughing is a normal and needed mechanism for clearing infection from the body. For those times when kids need relief from coughing honey may be a less expensive and safer option for children compared to some over-the-counter medications.”
Any child who experiences a persistent cough should be seen by a physician who can advise parents about the appropriate treatment options.
(J Alt Comp Med 2010;16:787-93)