Using honey for a cough is one of the best-known home remedies. Who hasn’t poured a bit of the sweet stuff and lemon into a hot tea when the coughs wouldn’t stop? Time has been so kind to this soothing tradition that now even health experts are recommending it to their patients.
Does using honey for a cough work?
Let’s put it this way: Honey for a cough is such a sweet treatment that the top health experts in the United Kingdom now recommend it as the first form of treatment for most people with coughs, according to the BBC. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) both report that there is a bit of evidence that a hot drink with honey can help alleviate cough symptoms. The organizations also say people should opt for the soothing sip before trying more intense treatments.
But don’t think the other side of the pond is the only place where health experts tout the benefits of honey for coughs. Here in the United States, some doctors say that honey alone may do the trick, no hot drink necessary. The Mayo Clinic reports that in one study, kids age two and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to two teaspoons of honey at bedtime. Sure enough, the honey appeared to reduce nighttime coughing for these sick children, which in trun improved their sleep. Even more impressive? The honey seemed to be just as effective as dextromethorphan, which is a cough-suppressant ingredient.
But what if using honey for a cough doesn’t work for you? It’s worth keeping in mind that sometimes a cough isn’t just a cough. If this pesky symptom is part of a larger illness or condition, additional treatment — such as prescription medication — may be necessary. If your cough doesn’t improve after a couple weeks of honey remedies and over-the-counter treatments, it’s wise to make an appointment with your doctor. Important: Not everyone can immediately enjoy the health benefits of honey on coughs. Never give honey to a baby under the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism, a serious type of food poisoning.
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