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OTC cough medicine: is it safe?

Depending on their ingredients, over the counter cough medicines are only safe to give to children who are 6 years of age or older.

In the past, over the counter cough medications were thought to be a safe way to relieve respiratory symptoms in children; however, researchers now know that they can be risky to give to children under 6 years of age. In most children, these medications cause hyperactivity, irritability, excessive sleepiness, and lethargy. And, they really do nothing at all to shorten the duration of the illness or relieve the symptoms.

Today, doctors recommend that over the counter cough medications not be given to children under age 6, but to use alternative home remedies to provide relief. A humidifier placed in your child’s room will help to sooth the chest pain and make it easier for your child to breath. Alternatively, there are versions of cough relievers which contain only glycerol, glycerine or liquid sugar – these can be suitable for children from 3 months.  Ask for advice at your pharmacy.

If your child has fever, it is safe to give him the proper dosage of a children’s pain reliever, like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Remember, never give a child aspirin as it is commonly linked to Reye’s syndrome, a disease that is rare, but potentially fatal.  Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma.

More questions

Concern over give infants cold medicine
There are very specific guidelines when it comes to safely administering over the counter medications to babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Fever is often the first sign of an illness in children. When your child has a temperature it can be a worrying and stressful time.
Sore throats and coughs are two very common illnesses for children.
Once you have established your baby has a fever and have taken practical measures, such as placing them in a cooler environment, to combat this, a fever-reducing medication can be administered.
Febrile convulsions are caused by a rapid increase in the body temperature of young children.
Once you have established your baby has a slight fever, there are a number of measures you can take to keep it under control
If your baby has a slight fever, there are a number of measures you can take to keep it under control.
The average body temperature should be between 35°C and 37°C.
 
While a fever can be treated, it's important to keep in mind that fevers are usually the symptom of an illness and not the illness itself.

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