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What's A Parent To Do Without Cold Medicine?

October 12, 2007, 4:30 PM by Jaine Andrews

What's A Parent To Do Without Cold Medicine?
Now that makers of cough and cold medicine for very young children have pulled their products from store shelves, parents are left with a few questions. Like how do you treat a stuffy nose and a cough in an infant or a toddler without those products? 

This news is certain to startle parents who have long used over-the-counter cough and cold remedies to calm the colds of young children, but doctors say there's no real evidence that these medicines actually work. 

That sound is enough to send shivers down any parent's spine. And while many of them rush to reach for something in the medicine cabinet, doctors say those cough and cold medicines aren't safe to use in children under two. And they weren't really effective in shortening the symptoms in the first place. 

Dr. Scott McKercher, a pediatrician with Sanford Clinic Pediatrics says, "That's the difficult thing when kids get colds, you always want to do something. I think that was the reason everyone used cold medications in the past is we had something we could give ‘em." 

Doctors aren't even sure medications like these are worth your while in kids--no matter what their age. McKercher says, "I wouldn't be too surprised if they don't extend that even higher to those age groups as well because we're not even sure in those age groups if there's efficiency or not with the medication." 

The news couldn't have come at a worse time--just as cold and flu season is set to get into full swing. So what's a parent to do? McKercher says, "I've been telling parents mainly things like pushing fluids, giving ‘em rest, um maybe running vaporizers on 'em, using a suction ball." 

Most coughs shouldn't be suppressed; that's how the body clears the lungs. And that low-grade fever is a sign the body is fighting an infection. Still if you still want to stick it out with something in a bottle, be careful how you measure it. 

Susan Rabenberg, a pediatric pharmacist with Sanford Children's says, "Don't use a tablespoon or a teaspoon from the drawer in the kitchen, that's not made to measure the correct dose. Use a specially made syringe, an oral syringe, for measure that medication or a spoon that's actually made to measure out the correct does of medicine." 

Bottom line? A little patience and a lot of TLC may be all you need to ride out a child's cold safely. The risk of serious side effects doctors say just simple isn't worth that chance to sleep through the night. 

Here's an interesting factoid for you: Doctors say the average child gets six to eight colds during their first two years of life.

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