Bumisuka.com – Potential Risks of Giving Cough Syrup to Children. Cough is one of the symptoms of a child’s illness that can make parents worried. Especially if the cough is so severe that it keeps the child awake all night and interferes with the child’s life, such as school.
While there are many over-the-counter products available, parents often wonder which treatment is the most successful and safest for relieving a child’s cough. Here are things parents need to know about choosing the right and safe cough medicine for children.
1. Warning for giving cough medicine and cold syrup
Warnings on cough and cold syrups usually state that these products should not be given to children under 4 years of age. Parents should not give cold and cough medicine to small children or infants whose products are designed for older children.
If your child is under 2 years old, never give them cold and cough products that contain decongestants and antihistamines without consulting their doctor first. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
2. Cough syrup
Reported by Verywell Health, medicines that help relieve coughs (antitussive drugs) usually contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Benadryl (antihistamines).
- Dextromethorphan (“DM” in cough syrup)
- Codeine or hydrocodone (narcotic cough suppressants)
Multi-symptom cough and cold syrups may contain decongestants, expectorants, or pain and fever relievers. Some cough syrups may also contain alcohol.
3. Is cough syrup effective?
One of the main factors in the debate about the use of cough syrups and colds in children is the evidence—particularly the lack of evidence—that they work, citing Verywell Health.
While many parents and pediatricians will say that cold and cough syrups are effective for a coughing child, the reports are anecdotal and not based on scientific research.
As for evidence that cough medicines don’t work, one large review of studies entitled “Over‐the‐counter (OTC) medications for acute cough in children and adults in community settings” published by the Cochrane Review in 2014 concluded that “There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of over-the-counter medications in acute cough. This should be taken into account when considering prescribing antihistamines and centrally active antitussive agents in children; drugs known to cause serious harm.”
One reason for the debate is that there are many conditions that cause children to cough, including croup (which is often characterized by a difficult cough to control), bronchitis, asthma, allergies, or the common cold.
More research is needed to determine whether these products are effective at treating coughs in children under certain circumstances. Additional studies will also increase efforts to make cough and cold medicines safer for children in general.
Even with the uncertainty and caution, many parents continue to use cough syrup for colds and coughs. If you prefer to try other remedies for a child’s cough, there are several alternatives that you can try:
- Cool air humidifier.
- Drink lots of water.
- Rest and reduce activity, especially avoiding physical activity that can make coughing worse.
- Saline nasal drops, with suction bulb for infants and newborns.
- Cough drops (cough drops or lozenges) for children over 4 or 5 years of age who do not pose a choking hazard.
If your child is coughing and has difficulty breathing, has a persistent cough, has a high fever and cough, or a cough that doesn’t go away or gets better after five to seven days, contact a pediatrician immediately.
A drug commonly abused in adolescents and young adults is dextromethorphan (DXM), which is found in cough syrups.
For example, combination cold medications such as Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold can also be abused. In addition to dextromethorphan, Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold contains an antihistamine. Large doses can cause hallucinations and other serious side effects. In fact, there have been reports of deaths from children who abuse DXM and Coricidin, citing the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Over-the-counter medications are widely available to treat cough and cold symptoms in children. However, its administration is not recommended for children under 2 years of age because it can cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.
Many over-the-counter cough and cold products contain many ingredients that can cause an accidental overdose. Learn about what drugs (active ingredients) are in a product by reading the drug facts label.
Over-the-counter cough and cold products can be harmful to children if:
- They take more than the recommended dose or take their medication too often.
- They take more than one product containing the same drug. For example, taking pain relievers containing acetaminophen and cough and cold medicines containing acetaminophen.
Do not give children drugs that are packaged and made for adults because adult drugs can cause children to overdose.
Not every cold or cough in children needs to be checked by a doctor. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician.
Some symptoms can signal that your child may have something more serious than a cold. According to the FDA, for all children, call the doctor if a parent notices any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher in infants 2 months or younger.
- Fever of 38.8 degrees Celsius or higher in children at any age.
- Blue lips.
- Difficulty breathing, including the nostrils that widen with each breath; wheezing; rapid breathing; the ribs are visible with each breath; or shortness of breath.
- Severe headache.
- Not eating or drinking, with signs of dehydration (such as reduced urination).
- Excessive reluctance or drowsiness.
- Constant earache.
- If the child’s condition gets worse.