The antitussives are medicines used to treat dry and irritating coughs. They may contain opiates - opium derivatives - or histamine antagonists. They all have the same aim: blocking the physiological cough reflex which is intended to maintain potency of the upper respiratory tract by removing excess secretions or foreign antigens.
A cough can be a symptom of a disease and needs to be diagnosed in order to be treated. It is also the way by which the body expectorates. There is no merit in using an antitussive in both situations and it is not recommended. For this reason symptomatic treatment should only be used for dry, irritating coughs. Always ask your pharmacist for advice or consult your doctor.
- Merck Manuel, 4th edition
- Afssaps, 4 May 2011
- Pharmacorama, website accessed on 3 August 2011
The antitussives only treat dry coughs. © Phovoir