The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.
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Related Disease Conditions
Cough: 19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe cough including irritants like cigarette and secondhand smoke, pollution, air fresheners, medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, the common cold, GERD, lung cancer, and heart disease.Natural and home remedies to help cure and soothe a cough include stay hydrated, gargle saltwater, use cough drops or lozenges, use herbs and supplements like ginger, mint, licorice, and slippery elm, and don't smoke. Over-the-counter products (OTC)to cure and soothe a cough include cough suppressants and expectorants, and anti-reflux drugs. Prescription drugs that help cure a cough include narcotic medications, antibiotics, inhaled steroids, and anti-reflux drugs like proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, for example, omeprazole (Prilosec), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and pantoprazole (Protonix).
Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip
Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, itchy ears, eyes, and throat. Seasonal allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) usually is caused by pollen in the air. Perennial allergic rhinitis is a type of chronic rhinitis and is a year-round problem, often caused by indoor allergens, such as dust, animal dander, and pollens that may exist at the time. Treatment of chronic rhinitis and post nasal drip are dependent upon the type of rhinitis condition.
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
How Do You Get Rid of a Cold Overnight?
Cold symptoms are part of your body’s healing processes. Most of the time, it does not require any help. However, you can get rid of a cold faster, even overnight, by resting, drinking hot fluids, blowing your nose, gargling with salt water, taking a hot shower, using a humidifier and taking OTC pain relievers and decongestants.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Common Cold: Stages and Timeline of Symptom Progression
The common cold or viral rhinitis is an upper respiratory infection caused by several types of viruses. It is one of the most common infectious diseases affecting humans. A common cold may typically follow a certain pattern of progression that has four different stages.
How Long Is a Cold or Flu Contagious?
Viruses cause the common cold and the flu. Early symptoms and signs for a cold and the flu are similar, however, flu symptoms are typically more severe than cold symptoms. Cold and flu viruses are transmitted typically via coughing or sneezing.
Croup is a contagious viral infection that affects children's respiratory systems. Symptoms include a barking cough, stridor, fever, and difficulty breathing. Treatment may incorporate the use of a humidifier, saline nasal spray, and pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Is a Cough Contagious?
There are many types of coughs: for example, dry cough, wet cough, a barking cough, whooping cough, stress induced cough, acute cough, and chronic cough. Cough is a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. Treatment of cough as a symptom is generally with OTC lozenges and liquids. The cause of the cough will be necessary to treat.
Cold, Flu, Allergy Treatments
Before treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
Laryngitis Home Remedies
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. Inflammation of the larynx is most often caused by viral infections, and have symptoms such as sore throat, cough, problems swallowing, and fever. The voice changes produced by laryngitis may last after the fever and other symptoms of the acute infection has gone away. The best natural home remedy to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by laryngitis include resting your voice and breathing humidified air often. Turning on hot water in the bathroom and then sitting in the steam can soothe and relive laryngitis symptoms. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) can relieve pain and inflammation caused by laryngitis. Don't give children aspirin to infants, toddlers, children and teens because of the risk of developing Reye's syndrome, which can be fatal. Home remedies like resting your voice and sitting in humidified air can cure laryngitis. Medications like anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can relieve and soothe pain and symptoms caused by laryngitis.
Children's Cough Causes and Treatments
Children's cough causes include infection, acid reflux, asthma, allergies or sinus infection, whooping cough, and exposure to irritants. Treatment for a child's cough include cough medicine for children over the age of four.
How Can I Stop My Child From Coughing?
Treatment for cough is not recommended unless the cough interferes with the child’s sleep or activity or is accompanied by a fever. Different age groups of children require different therapies to stop them from coughing. Some good home remedies to treat cough in children include honey, warm milk, hydration, steam inhalation, resting, saline nose drops and other strategies.
Adenovirus infections are common and often have no symptoms. Adenoviruses cause illnesses like bladder infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchitis, pinkeye, colds, encephalitis, sore throat, and meningitis. Signs and symptoms of an adenovirus infection depend on the type of virus causing the infection. Treatment focuses on supportive care. A vaccine against adenovirus type 4 and 7 is available only to U.S. military personnel.
What Happens if a Pregnant Woman Gets a Cold?
Having an ordinary cold shouldn't be harmful to the baby or mother. Pregnant women are highly likely to pick up a cold at some time during pregnancy because it's normal to catch two or three colds a year. A healthy lifestyle is a must to keep the immune system strong and to prevent colds.
What Is Enterovirus (Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection)?
Non-polio enteroviruses cause a variety of infections, including aseptic meningitis, hand, foot, and mouth disease, herpangina, and the common cold. Symptoms and signs of enterovirus infection include hypoxia, eye pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever. Treatment involves supportive care to reduce symptoms.
When Should You See a Doctor for Upper Respiratory Infection?
What is an upper respiratory infection? Learn the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection and what to do about it.
Children's health is focused on the well-being of children from conception through adolescence. There are many aspects of children's health, including growth and development, illnesses, injuries, behavior, mental illness, family health, and community health.
How Long Does Whooping Cough Last?
What is whooping cough and how long does whooping cough last? Learn more about whooping cough and how to recover from whooping cough.
Cold vs. Flu
Though the common cold and flu share many signs and symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Signs and symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and cough. Treatment options for the cold and flu are similar and focus on reducing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antivirals/neuraminidase inhibitors for the flu.
What Is Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)?
Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by the inhalation of the Coccidioides immitis or C. posadasii fungus. Symptoms are flu-like and resolve over two to six weeks. Infection typically requires no treatment, though there are many antifungal drugs to treat valley fever.
What Is the Fastest Way To Cure a Cough?
Learn what medical treatments can help ease your cough symptoms and speed up your recovery.
How Can I Help My Baby With a Stuffy Nose?
It is distressing to all mothers to see their little ones with a stuffy nose and a cold. When your baby is irritable and does not eat, it makes you and your whole family anxious. Fortunately, there are various ways to help your baby with a stuffy nose including steam inhalation, hydration, using tissues and other strategies.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Unwell Child?
A toddler or infant getting sick often worries parents, especially first-time parents. Signs and Symptoms of an unwell child include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing problems, headaches, jaundice and rash.
How Do You Comfort a Sick Baby?
Babies commonly get six to eight colds per year. Comfort a sick baby by using saline nasal spray with suction, increasing humidity, giving warm fluids, heaving them sleep on an incline and using medications for pain and fever as advised by your pediatrician.
How Do You Tell If Your Child Has Allergies or a Cold?
Colds and allergies have different causes, but both involve the body's immune system. Since the symptoms of allergies and the symptoms of a cold overlap, it can be hard to tell which one your child has.
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