When a patient has a cough, honey and over-the-counter medicines should be the first line of treatment in most of the cases, new British guidelines recommend.
Antibiotics do little to improve symptoms so they should rarely be prescribed by doctors for coughs, health advices say, BBC reports. The reason is that most of the time a cough will improve on its own within two to three weeks.
Now new proposed guidelines from the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) say there is some limited evidence that honey can help improve cough symptoms
Overusing antibiotics is making infections harder to treat, by creating drug-resistant superbugs.
Research has previously found that 48% of UK GP practices have prescribed antibiotics for a cough or bronchitis. "Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use”, commented Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director at PHE.
A hot drink with honey
As we all know, a hot drink with honey, lemon and ginger is a well-known home remedy for coughs and a sore throat.
Cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan might also be beneficial, new giuidelines say. Patients are being advised to use these treatments and wait for symptoms to improve on their own, before going to a GP.
Most coughs are caused by viruses, which cannot be treated by antibiotics and will clear up on their own.
However, honey is not recommended for children under the age of one because it occasionally contains bacteria that can cause infant botulism.
Symptoms are important
Doctors should be careful for the patient’s symbols. The guidelines recommend that antibiotics may be necessary for a cough when it is part of a more serious underlying illness, or when a person is at risk of further complications, such as those with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems.
The consultation on the new guidelines closes on 20 September.