Know how when you’re sick you quickly become really appreciative of the typically simple act of breathing, or sitting up without a headache, or even enjoying a nose that doesn’t flow nonstop with snot? Sounds gross, right? It feels gross, too. Which is why when I hear about a cough syrup that can “calm a cough and improve a sore, irritated throat”, I’m interested. Very interested.
Admit it. When you’re sick, you’re probably just as confused as the rest of us about what you have (is it a cold, allergies, bronchitis, something else??), when you should go to the doctor and when an over the counter medicine will be enough to get you back on your feet.
Well, I recently met Dr. Zak Zarbock, the creator of Zarbee’s, who cleared up cough confusion on many topics.
First…he explained that coughs can be broken down into two main types, productive and non-productive. Dr. Zarbock elaborates, “A non-productive cough, also known as a dry cough, produces little to no phlegm. Upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold, sore throats, sinus infections, and the flu, are common causes of dry cough. Viruses, which cause most upper respiratory tract infections, typically resolve without medications in one to two weeks. A non-productive cough may persist for several weeks after the resolution of the other symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. A productive cough, or a wet cough, is one that produces phlegm. This type of cough typically indicates a disease process involving excessive production of mucus in the lungs or fluid leakage into the airways. Pneumonia is a frequent cause of a productive cough. Chronic bronchitis, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, is a leading cause of persistent, productive cough.”
How about the issue of whether you should go to work, or send one of your children to school?
“Simple guidelines on when it is safe to go back to work or school with a cough would include: a non-productive, infrequent cough; no fever for 24 hours; only mild congestion or slight runny nose.”
There’s an issue with the popular ingredient Dextromethorphan found in lots of drug-based cough medicines…what’s the problem?
“Dextromethorphan (DM) is a controversial ingredient used frequently in adult and pediatric cough medications. Even when used according to package instructions, DM may not always be safe for cough. Between 5 and 10% of Americans are poor metabolizers of the drug, which may result in very high levels in the body with repeat use. Very high levels may result in hallucinations, breathing difficulty, coma or even death. The drug is also increasing in popularity among teens and adults as a recreational drug of abuse for its psychedelic effects. This practice has led to many retailers and some states requiring proof of age before purchase.
The use of DM in children is also no longer supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It has been shown to be ineffective in children, and given their small size, it may be even more deadly when excessive amounts are ingested.”
Why did the FDA ban the use of DXM in children?
“In 2008, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Advisory formally recommending that drug-based OTC cough and cold products not be used in infants and children under the age of two ‘because serious and potentially life-threatening side effects can occur.’ As a result of the warnings, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), an association that represents most of the makers of children’s OTC cough and cold medicines, announced that its members were voluntarily changing their product labels to say “do not use” in children under 4 years of age and introducing child-resistant packaging and new measuring devices. In Canada and the UK, Dextromethorphan has been banned in products for children under 6.”
Are there any concerns with adults?
“For many adults, the use of cough and cold products containing ingredients like dextromethorphan (DM) may be problematic and potentially dangerous. While for most, if taken as directed, there is little risk, the benefits may be only marginal. DM is not recommended during pregnancy or breast feeding and may interact with many common medications. The most notable interactions include many regularly prescribed anti-depressants, including the SSRI medications. In fact, 1 in 10 individuals in this country over the age of 12 is taking an anti-depressant, posing a major safety risk. There is also a significant portion of adults in the US (roughly 7%) who are poor metabolizers of DM. While unknown to that individual, poor metabolism could result in dangerously high levels of the drug with repeated use.”
You can find out more about Zarbee’s by clicking here. I was sent several samples to try for children and adults and will update this post when my family puts them to use (which will hopefully not be any time soon).