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Common cold remedies 'ineffective'

Tuesday November 5th, 2013

Researchers in Southampton, UK, have dismissed a range of common cold and sore throat remedies.

Only the pain-killer ibuprofen showed any benefit - and that was only for children or chest infections, according to a new study.

Researchers dismissed steam inhalation as having no benefits - and warned it could even harm some patients through burns.

They say there is no point in doctors advising most patients to take paracetamol and ibuprofen - and that they may even worsen symptoms.

Professor Paul Little, of Southampton University, has now published his findings in the British Medical Journal.

The study involved some 899 patients in GP surgeries who took part in a randomised control trial.

The research found that most patients prescribed ibuprofen or ibuprofen with paracetamol were back at the doctors within a month complaining of new symptoms or worsened symptoms.

Professor Little said: "Paracetamol, ibuprofen or a combination of both are the most common courses of treatment for respiratory tract infections. Clinicians should probably not advise patients to use steam inhalation in daily practice as it does not provide symptomatic benefit for acute respiratory infections and a few individuals are likely to experience mild thermal injury.

"Similarly, routinely advising ibuprofen or ibuprofen and paracetamol together than just paracetamol is also not likely to be effective.

"However our research has shown that ibuprofen is likely to help children, and those with chest infections."

Ibuprofen, paracetamol, and steam for patients with respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic randomised factorial trial BMJ 25 October 2013 [abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pain Relief | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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