Kids and Colds

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 10:26am

Shopping for children's cold medicine can be a confusing task.

If you are looking for a good mystery these days, skip the bookstore and head straight to the drug store.

Then ask any parent what the rules are these days for kids cough and cold medicines.

"There are so many choices out there. The question is which ones are safe. Parents can be very confused," says pediatrician Dr. Manisha Panchal.

In 2008 the Food and Drug Administration and major drug companies came out with new guidelines recommending parents not use cough and cold medicine for children under the age of four.

Now more than two years later many parents are still unclear what to give, or not give, a sick child.

The reason the FDA recommended the stricter guidelines in the first place is because they've found too many parents giving kids the wrong doses.

They would, for example, measure medication with a kitchen spoon rather than the provided measuring cup and end up giving too much, or get mixed up when giving multiple medications.

Even with the new guidelines, Dr. Panchal reports still seeing those mistakes.

She does, however, have a few suggestions to get you through the illness.

Saline sprays are good to use against nasal congestion.

Honey is good for a cough in children older than one.

Never use any medicine meant for an adult.

And finally, if the illness isn't bad enough to require a call to the doctor, do nothing at all.

Simplicity is often the best cure for confusion.

One reason the risk of overdose is so great with children is that their medications tend to have higher concentrations of the active ingredient.

The reason for that is it can be tough sometimes to get a child to take medication, so you want an entire dose to be delivered in a single swallow or sip.

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