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In the introduction of the The Fly in the Ointment, by Joe Schwarcz, the author notes that real-world chemistry engages the n - Essay Example

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Children's Cough Medicine Coughs in children can be distressing for everyone involved. They can prevent a child from sleeping or playing, and generally make them highly unhappy. As any parent knows, an unhappy child, especially those younger than school age, will make everyone around them unhappy as well…
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In the introduction of the The Fly in the Ointment, by Joe Schwarcz, the author notes that real-world chemistry engages the n
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Download file to see previous pages Many cough medicines use similar ingredients, so analyzing a single brand is sufficient to make assumptions about most of the medicines on the market. One such model medication is Triaminic Children's Cold and Cough. This medication contains 5 mg of dextromethorphan HCL as a cough suppressant, in addition to other active ingredients to act in helping with the pain and congestion symptoms of a cold (Triaminic-Novartis, 2011). It is reasonably effective at stopping a cough quickly, and so parents may use it for their younger child while ignorant of, or deliberately ignoring, the recommendations that it not be used in children under the age of four (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2000). What many parents may not realize when choosing to administer these medications to their pre-schooler is the mechanism of action of the dextromethorphan in Triaminic Cold and Cough. Dextromethorphan reduces coughing by actually decreasing electrical activity in the brain, specifically in the parts of the brain responsible for the cough reflex (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2000). This reflex is situated in the brain stem, a very basic portion of the brain involved in nearly all life-sustaining bodily functions (Shannon et al., 2004). This means that in addition to suppressing the cough, the medication can also cause disorientation and drowsiness even for those for whom dextromethorphan is FDA approved, and brain damage and death in young children (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2000). In addition to the possible detrimental effects of dextromethorphan, its effectiveness is actually also in question. Some studies have shown that giving a tablespoon of unprocessed honey to children above age two through age eighteen is more effective at stopping a nighttime cough than medications containing dextromethorphan. The parents of the children in one such study reported that not only did honey produce a similar level of cough suppression as the medication, children had a better sleep quality after treatment with honey and in fact a better sleep quality with no treatment at all. Some side effects of the dextromethorphan, such as restlessness and anxiety, interfered more with a child's ability to fall asleep than did the comfort level of the child during an untreated cough (Paul et al., 2007). If all children's products containing dextromethorphan, such as Triaminic's Cold and Cough, were removed from the market, there would be a definite lack of available over-the-counter treatment for children's coughs (Maisch, 2007). However, given that there is an available alternate treatment, honey, and the risks of brain damage and even death, parents should be aware that simply because a product such as Cold and Cough is available on the market does not mean they should give it to their children. Even older children can be at risk for serious side effects, and parents should be very careful about making such they provide such medications in the correct dosage for their child's age and weight. There are situations where a cough is severe enough in a school-age child to warrant use of Triaminic's Cold and Cough, but in no case should a parent provide a pre-schooler with that or any other cough suppressant medication containing dextromethorphan (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2000). Any cough that is that serious requires the care of a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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