Live Right Live Well: Kids' Health

Now that the FDA says I shouldn't give my child cold medicines, how can I ease his cold symptoms?

As difficult as it is to see your baby coughing and sniffling, it's very important not to give cough and cold medicines to children under two years of age since it can cause serious and, in rare instances, potentially life-threatening side effects, including convulsions, rapid heart rate and decreased levels of consciousness.

What's more, the FDA has determined that such medicines aren't necessarily effective in treating kids, so the risks far outweigh any potential benefits.

Fortunately, there's still plenty you can do to ease your child's cold symptoms without drugs, says Matt Musick, M.D., chief resident at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

To treat a fever, use acetaminophen, making sure to follow the dosages prescribed on the package.

For a stuffed-up nose, try saline nose drops or use a bulb syringe to suction mucus. Adding moisture to the air with a cool-mist humidifier can help with breathing, as can sitting in a steamy bathroom with a hot shower running.

It's also important to keep your child well-hydrated.

If he is still on breast milk, then continue breast-feeding, which provides nutrition as well as fluid. For kids between one and two years of age, juice diluted with water can do the trick, as can a drink containing electrolytes, such as Pedialyte or Gatorade mixed with water.

While most colds resolve by themselves in time, you should always consult your doctor if your child has severe difficulty breathing, is not urinating much (which can be a sign of dehydration) or if you are concerned about any of your child's other symptoms, advises Dr. Musick.

This Live Right Live Well Q&A was written by journalist Jennifer Viegas.


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Children's Health: Easing Kids' Cold Symptoms