Affects of common cold medication

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Research Study

Common Cold Medication Effectiveness


“Is an antihistamine-decongestant combination effective in temporarily relieving symptoms of the common cold in preschool children?
According to a study reported in the March 1997 issue of the Journal of Paediatrics, a common antihistamine decongestant combination (ADC) was no more effective than a placebo in providing temporary relief of symptoms of the common cold in preschool children.

The study involved children ranging in ages from six months to five years. The children were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group received an ADC (Dimetapp). The second group received a ‘look alike’ placebo for the common cold symptoms they were experiencing. Neither the parents nor the doctors involved in the study knew which of the children received the active preparation.

The child’s symptoms were then monitored. Two hours after each dose, changes in the child’s runny nose, nasal congestion, cough and sleep status were recorded.

The results from the study indicated that there were no statistically significant differences in symptom improvement between the ADC and the placebo group. However, the ADC did have significantly greater sedative effects than did the placebo.

The side effects of these medications can cause headaches, appetite loss and excitability in addition to the sedative effects from the medication.

The researchers concluded the potential harm far outweighs any perceived benefits for the child.

Clemens CJ; Taylor JA; Almquist Jr; Quinn HC; Mehta A; Naylor J Pediat 1997 (Mar);   130 (3):   463-466

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