Coughs and Colds

Tis the season for coughs and colds! Many people are tempted to give their children over the counter cough and cold medicines to make them feel better, but these medications can have serious side effects. Children younger than 4 years of age should never be given over the counter cough and cold medications. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 years of age should only be given OTC cough and cold medicines if recommended by your pediatrician. After the age of 6 years, OTC cough and cold medications are safe to use if the correct dosing on the packaging is followed.

Fortunately, there are some home remedies that are just as effective (or more effective) in providing some relief for your child:

1) Nasal congestion or stuffy nose: Nasal saline drops and spray.
For infants, instill 2 to 3 drops in each nostril. You may follow with bulb suction, or use saline alone. Saline drops should be used before feedings.
For older children, use a saline spray as needed for comfort throughout the day.

2) Runny nose: Bulb suction for infants and toddlers, or simply blowing gently with older children.

3) Cough:
For infants younger than 3 months: See your pediatrician.
For infants 3 months to 1 year of age: May use warm, clear fluids (water or apple juice) with dosage of 5 ml -15 ml (1 to 3 teaspoons) 4 times a day as needed for cough. AVOID HONEY in children under 1 year of age.
For children older than 1 year of age: Honey 1/2 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon as needed. Honey thins secretions and loosens the cough. Research studies have shown that honey is more effective than
OTC cough medicines in reducing night time coughing.

4) Fluids: It is important to give plenty of fluids to help thin secretions, making it easier to expel mucus.

5) Humidity: A cool mist humidifier used during sleep is helpful in keeping nasal mucus moist and secretions thin and easier to pass.

6) Fever: Tylenol and Ibuprofen (if over 6 months of age) can be used to treat fever. Fever is your body's natural way of fighting off infection, and should only be treated if it is causing your child discomfort, interrupts sleep or is slowing them down.

If symptoms are not bothering your child, there is no reason that they need to be treated. Many children are happy and playful even with a cough and congestion. Symptoms should be treated only if they cause discomfort, interrupt sleep, or cause them to slow down.

If your child is not improving from their cough or cold in 7-10 days, has persistent fever for more than 3-4 days, or has more significant complaints (ear pain, wheezing, refuses to drink, etc), they should be evaluated by your pediatrician.

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