Children and Cold Medications

New FDA Recommendation Leaves Parents with Questions. You may have heard about the FDA's new recommendation concerning over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

On October 19, at the end of a 2-day meeting on the safety and efficacy of over-the-counter cough and cold products in children, the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs and Pediatric advisory committees agreed that there was no evidence from the available scientific studies that these products were effective in children under age 12, and they expressed concern about the safety of these medicines when used in children. An FDA review of serious adverse events reported in association with cough and cold products in children under age 6 concluded that the use of these products has been associated with serious adverse events, including deaths in this age group, often related to overdoses that were accidental, intentional, or a result of a medication error.

This decision may also serve as a reminder to us, as consumers and as parents, that OTC drugs must be used with caution, and that we should not presume that they are safe just because they do not require a prescription. The FDA recommendation at this time is that these OTC medicines should not be used in children younger than age six. Pediatricians are in support of this decision, as many have known for years that these medications are relatively ineffective, and often send a child with a cold home without medication to rest and recover.

Parents of young children may be left wondering how to effectively treat their children during cold season. The good news is that natural medicine has many effective tools that are safe for both children and adults. While solid basics remain true, such as getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated, natural medicine offers many more options to facilitate quick recovery and minimize discomfort during the course of a cold.

Stress depletes the immune system, so making sure to reduce stress at the onset of a cold is important. Equally important is to help your child develop healthy stress reduction strategies for everyday health and prevention. A 2006 study showed that when happy people contract a virus, or catch a cold, they report fewer symptoms and in fact, are lesslikely to contract the virus at all. Taking the time to laugh and enjoy time with friends and family is important, and essential for preventative health and rapid recovery.

Vitamin C is a quick and easy option, safe for all ages, that has been shown to reduce the duration of a cold. In addition to taking vitamin C supplements, food sources of vitamin C are easy for the body to absorb and utilize. Some foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, guava, red and green peppers, kiwi fruit, pomegranate, strawberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, cantaloupe and papaya.

Other dietary recommendations include plenty of water to keep the body hydrated, and to assist with the elimination of toxins. All simple carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, dried fruit and concentrated fruit juice should be eliminated from the diet because they inhibit the immune system. Instead, focus on easy to digest foods such as broths, clear soups, steamed vegetables and herbal teas.

Warming socks are an excellent, easy to use home treatment for head and chest congestion. This treatment acts to reflexively increase circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. It is ideal for children who are having trouble sleeping due to a stuffy nose or cough. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. Full warming sock treatment instructions are available on the 2BWell website.

Several herbs have been well-researched for the treatment of the common cold and other viruses, but should be used under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner, as most studies have been performed on adults.

With so many options for both prevention and treatment of the common cold, parents should not feel at a loss for how to care for a sick child. A fever should last no more than 3 days and the cold symptoms of nasal congestion and cough in children may last for 2-3 weeks. You should see a doctor if your child develops a fever above 102°F, or if a fever lasts longer than 3 days, if you think your child has an earache or sinus pain, if your child has a difficult time breathing, if your child starts acting very sick, or if you have additional questions.

For more information regarding the new FDA recommendation, see:

Happiness and immune system health:

The Cold and Flu Kit is here!The new cold and flu kits are now available at 2BWell by request. Julie Brush, our Naturopathic Physician, has developed a kit for you and your family to have on hand for the winter season. Included are homeopathic and herbal home remedies plus instructions for easy use for mild ailments. The perfect kit to have on hand for your family's cold and flu needs throughout the winter season. We will also be taking orders for Christmas, this makes the perfect gift for friends and family! Please stop by the clinic to see the kit on display.