Use of antitussive medications in acute cough in young children

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Acute cough, a common complaint in young children, is often the result of a viral upper respiratory infection. Cough and cold remedies generate billions of dollars in annual sales in the United States, despite a lack of evidence of their efficacy and multiple warnings by the US Food and Drug Administration. The current article begins with the best available evidence for common over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription antitussive remedies in children. The article concludes with a discussion of the pros and cons for the use of antitussives in children with cough. In general, OTC antitussive medications should not be routinely used in children under 2 years of age. In certain cases, antitussives with minimal adverse profile and some evidence of benefit may be recommended after informed counseling.