In August 2018, Public Health England issued guidelines to GPs that patients should treat acute coughs with honey instead of being prescribed antibiotics.

In earlier guidance issued in 2009, the Commission on Human Medicines (UK) advised that there is evidence that over the counter cough medicines cause more harm than benefit.

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What ingredients do cough medicines contain?

The most common cough medicines contain the following active ingredients:

  • Antitussives (dextromethorphan and pholcodine).
  • Expectorants (guaifenesin and ipecacuanha).
  • Nasal decongestants (ephedrine, oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, and xylometazoline).
  • Antihistamines (brompheniramine, chlorphenamine, diphenhydramine, doxylamine, promethazine, and triprolidine).

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