As winter approaches, many parents will be bracing for the cold and flu season. Young children typically get at least six colds a year.
In previous generations, parents might have reached for the cough syrup to relieve a dry or chesty cough.
And amid mounting evidence of harms from poisoning and deaths, many countries including Australia have restricted cough medicines so they can’t be given to children aged under six.
What’s in cough medicine?
Active ingredients in cough syrups vary depending on their claimed benefit. They can contain cough suppressants (dampening the body’s cough reflex), expectorants and mucolytics (both of which help clear phlegm).
Other medicines marketed for cold and flu often contain decongestants (to relieve a blocked nose) and sedating antihistamines to relieve sneezing, stop a runny nose and to aid sleep.