Cold and Cough Home Remedies For Children

Concerns about the safety of over-the-counter cold medicines for children have left many parents searching for alternative remedies for children’s cold and cough symptoms.

Popular over-the-counter cold and cough remedies for infants have been withdrawn from the market after the FDA warned in January 2008 against giving those types of medicines to children younger than 2 because of the possibility of serious harm or death.

While the FDA is considering whether to change the guidelines for children ages 2 to 11, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in October 2008 said they would voluntarily change the labels on cough and cold medications to say they should not be used in children younger than 4. An FDA advisory panel made a similar recommendation in October 2008, saying that nonprescription cold medicines should not be given to children ages 2 to 5.

The nonprescription remedies include antihistamines for runny noses, decongestants for stuffy noses, cough suppressants, and expectorants for loosening mucus to relieve congestion.

Children get six to 10 colds a year on average, according to the National Institutes of Health. And as surely as children get the sniffles, parents want to ease their symptoms.

The bad news for parents: No home remedies or cold medicines will make a cold go away faster; they usually run their course in seven to 10 days. At best, some medicines will relieve symptoms. But even that is in question, says Sheela R. Geraghty, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio. She recommends fluids, reducing fever to make a child comfortable, and keeping noses suctioned so babies can eat comfortably.

“To be honest with you, that’s about it,” Geraghty says. “Time is what helps with colds.”



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