Cough Medicine and Cough Syrups (cont.)

Do Topical Cough Medicines Stop Coughs?

Camphor and menthol are commonly used topical cough medicines. These natural, aromatic cough medicines are rubbed on the throat and the chest. The anesthetic action of their vapors is thought to ease coughing and soothe stuffiness from a cold.

Camphor and menthol cough medicines are also available for steam inhalation. Menthol is available in lozenges and in compressed tablets.

What's a Combination Cold and Cough Medicine?

Many OTC cold and cough syrups and cough medicines contain a cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) plus an expectorant (guaifenesin) along with other cold medicines and pain relievers. The combination cold and cough medicine may contain an antihistamine, a decongestant, and a pain reliever in addition to the cough suppressant and/or expectorant. The combination of medicines may give optimal relief if you have multiple cold symptoms, such as body aches, coughs, and congestion. The downside of the combination cold medicines is that you may be taking medication that you don't need, depending on your symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold: Treatment."
Mayo Clinic: "Common Cold."
MedicineNet: "Cough."
American Academy of Family Physicians: "Cough Medicine: Understanding Your Options."
UptoDate: "The common cold in adults: Treatment and prevention."
Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 11, 2012
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2012

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