Over 7000 children are rushed to the emergency room each year in the U.S. as a result of over-dosing on OTC medications. Cough and cold medications typically contain a combination of antihistamines, decongestants, expectorants and cough suppressants, all of which can have serious side-effects on small children including increased blood pressure, heart rate disturbance, and depressed breathing. The rash of infant deaths from these medications lead the FDA in 2008 to issue a statement warning that over-the-counter cough and cold medications not be used on children or infants under the age of 2. This led to the voluntary removal from the market of most cold remedies that were specified for young children.
For the last 5 years, other than the doctor-recommended use of fever-reducers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, parents have been directed to just keep the child hydrated, use saline nasal drops, and to gently suction mucous from the nose. For children 2 years of age thru 11, parents have been advised to be vary careful not to mix products having similar active ingredients, to carefully follow the Drug Facts label and the instructions for use, not to use these products as sedatives for the child, and to be aware that none of these products will cure or shorten the duration of the common cold or flu. Many child advisory groups take an even more conservative stance and recommend that no OTC remedies be given to children under the age of 6.
Given the dangers of inherent in the use of OTC cold remedies on children, it is no wonder that more parents are searching for alternatives to OTC remedies. Before self-administering these remedies to small children, it is recommended that :
For babies under 3 month, you should first consult your doctor. You don’t want to risk croup or pneumonia developing.
For children over 3 months of age, call your doctor if the temperature rises over 100.4F, has trouble breathing or persistent cough, has signs of an earache or unusual signs of pain.
Some favorite home remedies include:
- Honey (for sore throat)
- Extra bed rest
- Chicken soup and lots of fluids
- Saline drops and syringe bulb
- Warm baths and steamy air (bathroom shower or a vaporizer)
- Keeping the head elevated in bed
Another “natural alternative” to consider is the use of homeopathic remedies. Most of the active ingredients in homeopathic remedies have been in use for 200 years, have been proven safe, are effective, are in very low dosage and will do no harm. The passage of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 that established the existence of the FDA and pharmaceutical medications (both OTC and prescription), also established and protected homeopathic remedies. The authors of this Act, including Senator Copeland from New York, had the foresight to protect homeopathic medicines by Act of Congress from possible future attack by the pharmaceutical industry as had happened in Europe during the 1800’s which almost wiped out its existence.