Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for acute cough in children and adults: uncertain if they are effective

Added March 23, 2020

Citation: Smith SM, Schroeder K, Fahey T. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for acute cough in children and adults in community settings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014; (11): CD001831

What is this? Most people with COVID-19 will develop a persistent cough. Non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are often used to treat cough in children and adults.

In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for randomised trials of OTC cough preparations in children and adults with acute cough. They did not restrict by type or language of publication and did their search in March 2014. They identified 10 placebo-controlled randomised trials in children (1036 participants) and 19 placebo-controlled randomised trials in adults (3799 participants).

What works: Nothing noted.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: There is insufficient evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines for acute cough in children or adults.


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