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Kids' Cold Medicines: New Guidelines

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What can I give my kids for a cold or cough?

Nothing cures a cold, but pediatricians say these strategies may help:

  • Call the child's doctor right away if he is three months of age or younger at the first sign of an illness.
  • Reduce the child's fever using appropriate medication (check with a doctor), such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not use ibuprofen in children under age 6 months or if your child is vomiting or dehydrated. Do not use aspirin with any child because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
  • Consider using honey for coughs or sore throat for kids, but only if they are older than 1.
  • Try saline drops or spray to clear thick mucus out of your child's nose.
  • Give your child plenty of liquids to increase hydration and help thin mucus.
  • Use a humidifier in your child's room to add moisture to the dry air.
  • If your child wheezes, call your doctor. Other treatments may be needed to help open airways.
  • To ease congestion, keep the child's head elevated when resting.

Of course, parents should seek medical care as needed. 

The good news about colds? Children get over colds and coughs as quickly without cold medicines as with them.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 18, 2013
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