If you’ve been paying attention you may have noticed the FDA making some serious changes to the labeling of kid’s cough and cold medicines. Almost every box on the aisle says it should not be used in children under 2 and a doctor should be consulted before using it in children under 4 (sometimes 6). For the most part, the parents I have explained this to quickly realize this is a conspiracy by the FDA to make children suffer thereby keeping their parents up all night thereby turning them into zombies the FDA can test anti-zombie vaccines on. Or something like that. As much as I would love for this to be true the real reason is slightly less interesting.
So we’re back to my favorite topic—risk vs. benefit. If you’re going to give your child something that has little to no benefit, how much risk are you willing to accept? (The correct answer is zero, in my humble opinion.) Also, do you really enjoy shelling out the big bucks for things that don’t work? (If you answered yes, please fill out the Ask the Pharmacist form with your bank account information. You are about to have the time of your life.)
PRECAUTIONS: Any child younger than 3 months should see a pediatrician before you start experimenting on them with cold remedies. For older children: read the dose and directions each time you give a medication and use only the measuring tool the product came with. (Or ask the pharmacist, they will be glad to give you an oral syringe.) NEVER guess/estimate doses or use a kitchen spoon to measure.
For congested and irritated noses give plenty of fluids (in their mouth)—this will help break up mucus. Feed infants frequently and give older children sips between meals. (Side note: have you ever noticed that it says to drink plenty of water while taking Mucinex®? Could this perhaps be what actually performs all the mucus-evicting miracles? Hmm…)
I know a lot of people like humidifiers or vaporizers and they can help with congestion and coughing. I hesitate to use them because I feel like it takes more work than it is worth to keep them clean enough they aren’t just spraying bacteria around the room—yum. The EPA has some great suggestions on caring for humidifiers and I wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone from using one.
And…that’s it. I just reduced an entire aisle to some saline drops, nose wipes, acetaminophen, and a little bottle of honey. I didn’t know I had it in me. Best of luck! (And wash those hands!)