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Since the end of 2008, Health Canada has been advising parents not to give children under the age of 6 over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines. Not only are these products ineffective, they can also cause adverse side effects. In addition, they present a risk of overdose due to misuse or dosing errors.
Manufacturers of these products are required to include a warning on their labels regarding the age restriction.
Healthcare professionals strongly recommend you follow these guidelines:
A variety of non-medicinal measures can temporarily alleviate coughing and other cold symptoms in children. Here are the main ones:
In case of fever, sore throat, headaches and muscle pain, children can be given acetaminophen (starting at 4 months of age) or ibuprofen (starting at 6 months) in accordance with dosing instructions indicated on the product label. Never give acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) to a child under the age of 18.
Cough and cold symptoms should disappear in 6 to 10 days (but a recent study found that acute coughs can last up to 18 days). If symptoms worsen or last more than 10 days, see your doctor.
Good to know!
A study published in Pediatrics in August 2012 found honey to be effective at alleviating coughs and improving sleep in children with an upper airway infection. Important warning! Honey is not recommended for children under the age of one. It can cause botulism, a serious, often life-threatening form of poisoning.
In March 2008, Health Canada brought together a group of experts to discuss the safety of pediatric cough and cold products. The group concluded that there was no evidence to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of these medicines for children under the age of 6.
Normally, yes. In case of doubt, read the list of ingredients. If the medicine contains active ingredients included on Health Canada’s list, do not administer it to a child under 6.
If you follow the instructions – for example, by not combining different medicines and by strictly adhering to the dosing information indicated on the label – cough and cold products are considered safe for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Remember, however, that they do not cure coughs and cold. They only temporarily relieve symptoms. Non-medicinal measures can deliver the same results.
Children are not mini-adults. Their bodies function differently than those of adults. As a result, it cannot be assumed that the same product – in smaller doses – will have the same effect in both. This is why you should never give children medicine made for adults.
If you have questions about drug-free ways or natural health approaches to treating your child’s cold or cough, speak with your family pharmacists. They’re here for you!
[UNIPRIX] - The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.