Vicks VapoRub, used by some parents to give their kids relief from a cold, may do just the opposite by restricting their ability to breathe, according to new research.
The study, as widely reported, demonstrates that the company's warning not to use on children under age two should be heeded. But it also suggests that the over-the-counter treatment may be all smoke and mirrors, offering more harm than good.
The researchers at Wake Forest University, who published their findings in Chest, applied Vicks VapoRub to ferrets, according to the Washington Post account: "The researchers found that Vicks VapoRub increased mucus production by up to 59 percent; the ability to clear mucus was reduced by 36 percent," according to the Post.
That's right more mucus. (Proctor and Gamble, the manufacturer, sought to cast doubt on the findings, noting that the study was inspired by a single incident of lung irritation in a human child.)
It's times like this that remind us to think twice about received wisdom and habits. (What is Vicks VapoRub, anyway?) Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, particularly those for children, have been criticized by researchers in recent years for doing no good, or in some cases, possibly more harm than good.
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