Pediatrician: Parents should avoid cold, cough medicines

Cough syrup containing a non-regulated ingredient, dextromethorphan, is on display on a store shelf at an Edmond, Okla., pharmacy Thursday, May 18, 2006. A state lawmaker said opposition from grocers and convenience stores is responsible for the failure of his bill to stop teenagers from getting high on cough syrup containing the non-regulated ingredient. (AP Photo)

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – A York County pediatrician says there’s no evidence that proves cold and cough medicines work.

“These cold and cough medications have no consistent benefits. For most children, they’ll do nothing and the side effects are predictable,” said Dr. David Turkewitz, a pediatrician at WellSpan York Hospital.

Turkewitz said the FDA recommended years ago that parents stop giving cold and cough medicines to children under age 6.

“The more serious side effects particularly are going to be under age 2, and they include convulsions, serious arrhythmia of the heart, and even death,” Turkewitz said.

He said the medications don’t do much for adults, either.

“What I can absolutely say is consistently, when you line people up and you look, the medications do not work,” he said.

Some include alcohol and antihistamines.

“While it helps for an allergy runny nose, it doesn’t help for an infectious runny nose,” Turkewitz said.

There are other things you can do to treat cold symptoms like taking acetaminophen, drinking lots of fluids, using saline nasal drops, and – for those 1 year and older, honey. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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