Your youngest has a cold and a bad cough? Your best bet is to try drug-free ways to relieve those symptoms. Here’s why.
Since December 2008, Health Canada, has been advising parents not to give their children under six years of age over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Reported cases of misuse, overdoses and rare, but serious adverse effects, were the motivation behind this decision.
To ease cough and cold symptoms in children, try these solutions instead of medicine: make sure they get sufficient rest, have them drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, keep their throat moist and maintain a proper level of humidity in the home. To relieve a stuffy nose, saline mist is a great option.
As a general rule, you don’t need to take your child to the doctor’s for a cold. It will go away on its own. Exceptions include a fever that lasts more than 48 to 72 hours or complications, such as an ear infection, pink eye, sinus infection or pneumonia.
A touch of honey to alleviate a cough
An Israeli study published in the journal Pediatrics found honey to be a good alternative to OTC cough medicines. Conducted among 300 children ages one to five, the study showed that that taking 10 g of honey 30 minutes before going to bed is effective for calming a cough. The sugar contained in honey spurs saliva production, which soothes the throat. However, only pasteurized honey must be used and only given to children over the age of one to avoid the risk of botulism.
Parents also need to avoid giving children 6 to 12 more than one cough or cold product at a time. Taking several drugs containing the same active ingredients can lead to adverse effects and overdose.
Another important reminder for parents is that acetylsalicylic acid (contained in products like Aspirin) must never be administered to children under the age of 18, since it could cause Reye syndrome, a serious disease of the brain and liver.
Tips on keeping your family cold free
To help you and your family stay healthy, nothing beats basic prevention measures.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity (healthy diet, exercise, sufficient sleep, no smoking, limited alcohol intake).
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
- Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes after touching a contaminated object.
- Avoid all contact with people who have a cold.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Do you have questions on children’s health and drug-free ways to treat their minor ailments? Speak with your family pharmacists. They’re here for you!