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December 28, 2015 06:59 PM

Codeine, Cough Syrup Controversy

Sioux Falls, SD

Tis the season for coughs and colds, but you might want to think twice before giving your child cough syrup with codeine.

A recent recommendation to the FDA suggests the medication should not be used to treat children or most teenagers.

When it comes to treating the common cold, we all have our favorite remedies.

"I encourage them to try and take some Zicam and take vitamins and eat healthy and rest," Brian Eide said.

Sometimes even getting rest can be difficult when you're not feeling well. That's when cough syrup can come in handy.

"Delsym is a good product. It lasts a little bit longer. Try some Benadryl. See if that works. It's over-the-counter again," Lewis Drug Pharmacy Director Bill Ladwig said.

Ladwig says if over-the-counter medication doesn't work, you can get a prescription for cough syrup that contains codeine.

"If you have a child or an adult with a really bad cough and nothing else seems to work, it helps you get sleep and rest and stops the cough," Ladwig said.

But some medical advisors to the FDA don't want children to use codeine. Two committees have recently made the recommendation. The concern? In rare cases, it has caused life-threatening breathing problems. Plus, they say there are potentially safer alternatives for alleviating pain.

"Codeine is a very poor pain medication. It causes more constipation than it helps with pain," Ladwig said.

Of course no matter what medication you're taking, including codeine, you need to make sure you use it as directed.

"You just have to make sure you use it appropriately. Dose it correctly. Don't overdose it," Ladwig said.

Ladwig says overall if you use cough syrup with codeine as prescribed, it should be fairly safe.

"If you need some sedation and help with a cough, it's a good product," Ladwig.

Eide just hopes his family won't have to worry about that this cold and flu season.

"Absolutely," Eide said.

While you do need a prescription to get cough syrup with codeine in South Dakota and Minnesota, you don't in 28 states including Iowa.

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