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Cough medicine: How the size matters

Armen Hareyan's picture

One teaspoon of cough syrup that can provide relief to your cough pain. This seems to be the magic formula that one wants when at midnight can not sleep by an attack of coughing. However, the key, beyond the syrup, is knowing exactly what type of teaspoon to use.

The dosage of a drug indicated on the label is essential for it to function right. Yet, it seems that not everyone can measure the exact dose of drug prescribed on its label.

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A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 200 college students by giving them the task of putting 5 milliliters of a medicine, in 2 tablespoons. Those are the tablespoons that are regularly found in the kitchen: medium-sized and large. Five milliliters is the the standard measure for a teaspoon.

The result was no doubt that size matters.

On average, students fell short by 8% when they used a medium size spoon. The spent extra 12% of the drug dose when using a large spoon. The funny thing is that students, without knowing the results were fairly confident they had done a good job.

Therefore, it's best to take home the spoons from the pharmacy stores to avoid altering the benefit of medications that are administered orally. Most, if not all of the drugs today already come with a small measure-cup or a spoon anyway.