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Cold medicines and kids

February 17, 2014
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During this cough and cold season, I wanted to share a few thoughts about cold medications and children. It has been well established for a while that over the counter cold medicines probably have more risks than benefits in young children. In fact, the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics have been fairly strong that decongestants and cough suppressants have no benefit and should not be used in children under 2 (and probably have little role for kids under 6). Here's what you can do for your little one with the sniffles. Plain nasal saline drops can break up nasal mucus. Young kids don't like it, but if you instill one or two of these drops in each nostril while a child is lying down, they tend to break up thick mucus and wash it back. There is no need to overuse these drops - just use them if the congestion is really bothersome to a child. There is some role for cool mist humidifiers, especially for night coughs, and Vicks Vaporub can be beneficial for night cough in toddlers and older children. It turns out that a spoonful of honey or a cup of warm liquids is as effective as any cough suppressant in temporarily soothing a child's throat from a bad cough - and, of course there is no way to overdose on honey (just don't use it in babies under a year). For older kids, nasal rinses with a Netti-pot can be the best decongestant of all.

Hang in there - spring is almost here (no matter what the groundhog said)!

Dr. Nechyba