Give honey and lemon, not OTC cough medicines, to children with coughs, says leading paediatrician

Cough medicines can be toxic and children are better off being treated with plain old honey and lemon and plenty of rest, a leading paediatrician has advised.

Children with troublesome coughs should be treated with ‘old-fashioned’ honey and lemon rather than over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, a leading paediatrician has advised.

When taken in large doses, many OTC cough and cold medicines and medications can be toxic or have adverse effects, Oliver Bevington, chair of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) trainees’ committee warned.

In an article published on the medical blog Hippocratic Post, Bevington said there was “absolutely no evidence that cough medicines work” and that “potentially they could actually do the child more harm than good”.

These medicines “often also contain a lot of sugar, which is also not good for children’s overall health,” he added.

He said that “nine times out of ten”, coughs and colds were caused by a self-limiting viral infection — so do not need antibiotics — and get better with rest, plenty of fluids and possibly paracetamol and/or ibuprofen.

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