How cough and cold medicines harm your child

Whenever our little one gets the sniffles, we’re often compelled to remedy the situation they way we would if we ourselves had colds. We’d grab a bottle of cold medicine from our trusty old medicine cabinet and give a spoonful of it to our kid. Insert STOP sign and car-coming-to-a-screeching-halt sound effect here. Experts say, that is not the right way to go.

Doctor Prudence (a resident physician here in the metro) emphasizes in her blog, that just because we can readily get hold of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines even without a doctor’s prescription, that doesn’t mean these OTC drugs are safe for our kids. If not used correctly, they can do more harm than good. Package inserts normally indicate the right dosage based on age, and not on weight. We should be aware that children’s weights vary greatly within age groups, so solely relying on age-based dosage is inaccurate. A child’s weight should be the preferred method in determining proper dosage for medication.

She further goes on to say that there are two types of cough syrups: suppressants and expectorants. Suppressants usually contain codeine and dextromethorphan, which can cause respiratory depression in kids, when toxicity levels are reached. Coughs are best left unsuppressed, as this is how our lungs help clear out mucus. Doctor Prudence stresses that expectorants such as Ambroxol and Guaifenesin are better to give than suppressants. We shouldn’t give these to kids suffering from an asthma attack, though.

Here are some ways to treat a sick child without using drugs:
• Use saline drops or a nasal spray to relieve a stuffy nose.
• Use suction bulbs for babies with too much mucus. Use a humidifier for bigger kids. Without a humidifier, you can mix salt with hot water, and have your child inhale the steam.
• Tell your kid to drink lots of fluids.

We must also remember that colds and cough in kids are often caused by viruses, so these are better left on their own, without having to administer antibiotics. Cough and cold medicines are there to help ease a child through the symptoms, but they do not cure. Kids just get better with time.

A general rule of thumb would be, when in doubt, ask your doctor. Better safe than sorry, right?

About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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  1. gie santos says

    we use about the same ways on how to treat our kids without using drugs. I have always been an advocate of natural medicines. hehehe. except maybe when the illness is so severe that i do not have any other choice but to depend on meds. The trick really is prevention and battle the illness early on before it gets worst. ;)

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  3. Alita Uranga says

    Of course, what a magnificent blog and educative posts, I will bookmark your website.Have an awsome day!

  4. Just to add in my advice would be use saline drops or a nasal spray to relieve a stuffy nose.

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