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Making Sense of OTC Drug Use in Kids

Get answers to questions about OTC drug safety for children.

Is it OK to give vitamins or supplements?

It’s not a bad idea to encourage your children to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C or take vitamin C supplements when they have a cold. “This could help resolve symptoms more quickly,” Shepard says. Oranges, broccoli, strawberries, and bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C. Follow dosing instruction on vitamin labels carefully.

There have also been some concerns about the use of intranasal zinc in children. The FDA recently advised consumers -- including kids -- to stop using Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs, and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (a discontinued product) because they are associated with the loss of sense of smell. This can be especially troublesome in kids, who may be less likely to tell you they can’t smell.

What about OTC remedies for stomach ailments?

Talk to your pediatrician to find out what anti-diarrheal medications, if any, are safe for your child. “Keep up with fluid for vomiting or diarrhea because kids can get dehydrated and weak,” Shepard says. “Do not give OTC medicine if there is blood in the stool,” she adds. “If there is blood, you need a stool culture.”

For infants with gas, gas drops and OTC colic remedies, such as gripe water, are generally safe if you follow the directions on the label.

Reviewed on July 06, 2009

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