Ahem! When you hear that theatrical cough, a character's fate is about to change.
Alec Baldwin once parodied that trope on "Saturday Night Live," offering actors-to-be an instructional CD titled, "First Coughs: Foreshadowing Your Character's Death."
But offstage, coughs from the common cold or bronchitis are no laughing matter (though they aren't usually life-threatening) and neither is the codeine and other ingredients found in cough meds.
Cough meds are, unfortunately, a major source of recreational drug abuse for teens. Chronic abuse of codeine-laced prescription cough meds can damage your brain's white matter, where nerve fibers live.
And there are around 125 over-the-counter products containing dextromethorphan, which when super-dosed produces hallucinations and dissociative episodes like the street drugs PCP or special K (ketamine).
So, as you head into cold and flu season, here's how best to manage cough symptoms and cough meds.
1. Kids shouldn't be given codeine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A third get no relief from the drug; one in 12 can suffer seriously slowed breathing. Yet, up to 877,000 prescriptions are written annually for kids' codeine cough meds. And no kids under 4 should ever be given the OTC cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
2. Most coughs are viral. That means only around 10 percent respond to antibiotics.
3. The best medicine for coughs? Dark honey. Try 2 teaspoons 30 minutes before bedtime, as well as steaming, drinking hot tea and using a purified water and saline nasal spray - a neti pot is one of our favorite choices, but it must be kept clean and sterile.
© 2014 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
© King Features Syndicate