What You Need to Know: Kids’ OTC Cold Remedies

By Candace Walsh

Since the FDA urged parents to avoid children’s over-the-counter cold and cough medicines, you may have had a few questions. First, why were they banned? And second, how can you safely ease your sick child’s discomfort?

In 2005, three babies six months or younger died after they were given cold and cough medicines containing the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine and/or the cough suppressant dextromethorphan, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each baby had high levels of pseudoephedrine in her bloodstream. The CDC also reports that from 2004 to 2005, more than 1,500 children under the age of 2 were treated in emergency rooms for problems related to these OTC medications. Finally, an FDA report released in September 2007 revealed that from 1969 to 2006, 54 children died after taking decongestants, and 69 children died after taking antihistamines.

Safer Homeopathic And Herbal Approaches:
For nasal relief, Hyland’s Sniffles ’n Sneezes 4 Kids contains zinc gluconate, which has been proven to shorten a cold’s duration by almost half. Roy Steinbock, MD, a holistic pediatrician in Boulder, Colorado, recommends Heel’s Euphorbium anti-inflammatory nasal spray for all ages, even infants.

For sore throats and coughs, Steinbock recommends slippery elm bark and cherry bark lozenges for children older than one year.

For ear discomfort, he recommends willow-garlic oil. Aspirin was first derived from willow trees, so it provides an analgesic effect.

For a mild and organic chest rub, try Nature’s Baby Organics Ah-Choo chest rub, made of olive oil, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil.

For skin irritation from a runny nose, try Boogie Wipes, saline wipes that gently remove dried mucus from around the nose, or Emily Skin Soother salve, which protects and soothes chapped and raw skin.