Over the counter cough, cold and fever reducer medications
Before you give your child over the counter cough, cold or fever reducer medication, please read.
Every year over 70,000 Emergency Room visits are a result of accidental overdoses of medications in children. Protect your children and keep all medications up high, out of a child’s reach and under lock and key. Many accidental overdoses occur when parents leave medication out on the counter for convenience when a child is sick, so remember to put medication away every time you use it. Always read and follow the label instructions on the product you are using and use the measuring device (such as dropper or cup) that comes with the medication. Give the amount of medicine listed for your child’s weight–a much more accurate way to dose medication than by age.
Cough and Cold
Over the counter cold and cough medications are not approved by the FDA for children under age 4. I know firsthand that’s it’s no fun for you or your kids when they have a cold. Here are some tips to help everyone feel more comfortable.
- Runny nose: Suction. Teach preschoolers to blow their nose, throw tissue in trash and wash hands.
- Stuffy nose: Use saline drops to loosen dried mucus, then suction or blow. Run a humidifier or vaporizer in room while sleeping.
- Coughing: Warm, clear fluids help. Over age 1, can try a ½ teaspoon of honey as a natural cough suppressant. Use a humidifier or vaporizer. Steam up the bathroom and spend 20 minutes playing in steam.
It’s easy to freak out when your child has a fever. Stay calm. Parents often call me in panic mode….”Her temperature is 102!” And I say, “Ok, how is she acting?” They say, “But doctor, maybe you didn’t hear me, it’s 102!.”
A fever isn’t a disease, just a symptom, or byproduct of an illness. A fever is rarely dangerous and will not cause brain damage in an otherwise healthy child. For a baby under 3 months of age, any fever of 100.4 or higher could potentially be a sign of serious illness so call your pediatrician or go to the ER right away. If your child is over 3 months of age, it may not make much of a difference what the number on the thermometer reads. What actually matters is how your child is acting or interacting, eating and sleeping and the other symptoms present.
New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend what most pediatricians have been saying for years. You don’t need to treat the number on the thermometer. And, you need not to wake your child up to give them a fever reducer. If they are sleeping, let them sleep. If your child has a fever and is uncomfortable, then a fever reducer may help them feel better and drink fluids. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil) are generally safe when given in appropriate doses.
It’s important for parents to know that Tylenol and other brands of acetaminophen are changing. Previously there were two concentrations of liquid acetaminophen. An infant concentrated form (80 mg per 0.8 ml) and a children’s form (160 mg per 5 ml). Now most manufacturers will be only making one concentration–the children’s concentration (160 mg per 5 ml). This children’s concentration (160 mg per 5 ml) will be packaged for infants AND children. There will be dosing instructions on the package for a child’s weight. This change will hopefully make dosing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) less confusing and therefore there will be less mistakes or accidental overdose. In the meantime however, it maybe be more confusing as both the old and new forms of infant acetaminophen may be available.
If you have any questions about medication or dosing of medication, call your child’s pediatrician or ask your pharmacist. Even in the middle of the night!