Wet cough syrup - what should it be like?
Cough is one of the most frequent causes of the seasonal increase in the number of patients in doctor's surgeries and pharmacies. All patients expect individual advice as well as an effective and safe medicine that will quickly free them from this bothersome condition. When choosing a cough medicine, traditionally we usually reach for syrups, which, however, are very diverse and numerous. To make the right choice, it is worth consulting a specialist, and also paying attention to several important aspects.
First of all, it is necessary to determine the type of cough, mainly based on the wet or dry criterion, which, however, sometimes causes certain problems. If we suffer from a thick secretion lingering in our respiratory tract, which is difficult to cough out, we deal with wet cough, requiring the administration of expectorants, not suppressants. For this reason, cough should be divided into wet (productive) one, with an increased secretion, and dry (non-productive) one, which does not increase mucus secretion and which usually requires the administration of typical cough suppressants.
If we are sure we deal with wet cough, we should then think which of the many expectorant agents to use. We can choose from a wide range of synthetic drugs and very popular natural medicines.
It is worth taking interest in natural medicines containing extracts from medicinal plants, however, even in this group there are fundamental differences between particular preparations.
A noteworthy example of an effective, yet safe, natural expectorant syrup is ivy syrup. Ivy extract thins bronchial secretion and facilitates expectoration. This ensures a faster removal of the mucus, which, when lingering for a longer time, can cause a bacterial infection. The compounds included in the extract additionally have bronchodilator action and reduce the frequency of attacks of severe, painful cough. Thanks to this action, the symptoms gradually withdraw and the cause of wet cough is eliminated. The healing effect of ivy is mainly determined by its saponin compounds, which, in addition to their expectorant activity, also have a documented anti-inflammatory effect. This is especially important in the case of chronic bronchitis.
The extract obtained from ivy is completely safe, it can be used as early as from the age of five. It can be administered to younger children after the dose has been determined by a specialist. A prior consultation by a medical doctor or pharmacist is also recommended in the case of pregnant and lactating women.
The safety of a given drug is determined not only by its main active ingredient, but also by the excipients. Many preservatives, artificial flavors or dyes can have an adverse effect on health. Similarly, alcohol, which is often found in older-generation syrups, is an undesirable ingredient, especially when the syrup is to be given to children, people with liver problems or drivers.
Although traditionally the main ingredient of syrups is sugar or sucrose, today their use is limited. Sugar is a problem not only for diabetics, but also for anyone who cares about a proper supply of calories. Sugar excess in the diet is not only conducive to overweight and obesity, but is also likely to contribute to the development of cancer. Conclusions from the results of many studies clearly show that we should limit sugar. Currently, thanks to the development of the technology of drug forms, modern syrups are made without sugar, and yet, the best of them can be stored and used up to 6 months from the first opening.
To sum up, the basis for cough treatment is an accurate diagnosis and proper drug selection. When choosing a cough syrup, it is worth learning its effects, as well as the composition, if necessary, seeking help from a medical doctor or pharmacist.
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Schönknecht K, Fal AM, Mastalerz-Migas A, Joachimiak M, Doniec Z.; Efficacy of dry extract of ivy leaves in the treatment of productive cough. Wiadomości Lekarskie 2017;70:1026-1033.