Acute cough caused by viral respiratory tract infections is probably the most common illness to afflict mankind. Despite the widespread but ineffective prescribing of antibiotics, there is no specific therapy. Home remedies and over-the-counter medicines are the mainstay for treatment of this short-lived but debilitating condition where cough is a major troublesome symptom. Across Europe, there are large variations in the recommendations made by healthcare professionals for the treatment of acute cough. This has arisen through custom and practice based on the evidence of historical studies performed to standards well short of what would be considered legitimate today. Acute cough is particularly difficult to study in a controlled setting because of the high rate of spontaneous remission and a large placebo effect. Here we detail the validated modern methodology used to assess the efficacy of antitussives and review the drugs commonly used in Europe against these standards.
- Viral infection
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