Have you ever given your toddler OTC cough and cold medicines? With cold and flu season approaching I wanted to take the time to share some information on how to safely treat a child’s cough and cold with a natural product.
The growing concern about acetaminophen comes on the heels of US Food & Drug Administration warnings about Dextromethorphan, another popular ingredient in OTC cough and cold medications that is no longer supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to a recent study by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country, “Research has linked OTC cough and cold products to cases of poisoning or death in hundreds of children 2 years of age and younger.” In addition, complications from cough medication use send thousands of children under the age of 11 to emergency rooms every year.
To protect children, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 2008 formally recommending that OTC cough and cold products not be used in infants and children under the age of 2 “because serious and potentially life-threatening side effects can occur.”
|Dr. Zak Zarbock
Dr. Zak Zarbock, a Utah-based pediatrician who spoke at an FDA advisory hearing about the dangers of OTC cough and cold medications, was so concerned about the dangers of Dextromethorphan that he developed Zarbee’s, a line of all-natural cough and cold remedies that contain no Dextromethorphan or other drugs, no alcohol or dyes and carry no risk of overdose or side effects.
Filling a much-needed gap in the pediatric market, and now recommended by more than 40,000 pediatricians nationwide, Zarbee’s makes a cough syrup with a special blend of honeys fortified with immune-boosting vitamins that is safe for children as well as pregnant and nursing women and a nighttime drink that soothes coughs and promotes healthy sleep.
Despite the warnings and safe alternatives, the Mott Children’s Hospital study found that more than 60% of parents with children 2 and under have given their children an OTC cough and cold medicine within the last 12 months.
Why aren’t parents listening? According to the report, “There are challenges to informing parents about this topic. The FDA warning is specific to children 2 and under—but parents of those kids may not have heard the warnings issued more than 2 years ago. Each year, a new generation of parents must be educated about a wide variety of health care issues for the children.”
With cold and flu season officially upon us, now is the perfect time to review how to safely treat a child’s cough and cold symptoms. As the research shows, the potential dangers are nothing to sneeze at.
- Call a physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional if you have any questions about using cough or cold medicines in children 2 years of age and older.
- Only use the measuring spoons or cups that come with the medicine or those made especially for measuring drugs. Do not use common household spoons to measure medicines for children since household spoons come in different sizes and are not meant for measuring medicines.
- Carefully follow the directions on the label. These directions tell you how much medicine to give and how often you can give it.
- Understand that using OTC cough and cold medicines are intended only to treat your child’s symptom(s). OTC cough and cold medicines do not treat the cause of the symptoms or shorten the length of time your child is sick. They only relieve symptoms and make your child feel more comfortable.
- Check the “active ingredients” section of the label. This will help you understand what “active ingredients” are in the medicine and what symptoms each active ingredient is intended to treat. Cough and cold medicines often have more than one “active ingredient” (such as an antihistamine, a decongestant, a cough suppressant, an expectorant, or a pain reliever/fever reducer).
- Be very careful if you are giving more than one OTC cough and cold medicine to a child. Many OTC cough and cold medicines have more than one “active ingredient.” If you use two medicines that have the same or similar “active ingredients” a child could get too much of an ingredient which may hurt your child. For example, do not give a child more than one medicine that has an antihistamine.
- Do not use these products to sedate your child or make your children sleepy.
- Choose OTC cough and cold medicines with childproof safety caps, when available, and store the medicines out of the reach of children.