A 2008 Cochrane review found that antitussives, antihistamines, antihistamine/decongestant combinations and antitussive/bronchodilator
combinations were no more effective than placebo in alleviating symptoms of cough and cold. Medsafe recommends that
cough and cold preparations containing medicines such as antihistamines, antitussives, expectorants and decongestants
should not be used in children aged less than six years.
Beta-2 antagonists e.g. salbutamol, have not been shown to reduce the incidence or severity of cough in children with
acute cough, with no airflow obstruction.
Infection with the common cold can affect children and adults differently, therefore products which may be effective
for adults do not necessarily work in the same way for children. It is acknowledged that the placebo effect may play
a significant role in the anecdotal success and popularity of using cough and cold preparations.
Many cough and cold preparations contain either a CNS depressant e.g. promethazine or a CNS stimulant e.g. phenylephrine.
This can lead to adverse CNS effects, even following recommended doses, such as sedation, psychomotor impairment, insomnia,
tremor and hyperexcitability.
These concepts seem well understood by respondents.