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MO Cold Virus Season Advice – Skip the Meds for Kids

October 13, 2008

Kansas City, MO – Missouri cold virus season is here, and that means it's time to stock up on chicken soup for the kids - instead of over-the-counter cold remedies.

Pediatric nurse-practitioner Ginny Rahm, with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, says common cough medications and decongestants have never been proven to work in children under age six, and their side effects can be more serious than the cold they were supposed to help. She suggests simple home remedies instead; encourage kids to rest by letting them watch some television or read, and keep them hydrated.

"Use something as simple as saline nose drops. For humidifiers or vaporizers, make sure it's cool mist. If they seem to have a hacking cough, you can give them a little bit of honey, if it's an older child."

Rahm hears frequently from parents that their child's cold seems to have lingered for months. And it's true, she says - kids are vulnerable to a series of viruses.

"What happens is, they get a cold that lasts for 7 to 10 days, and goes away. Well, in the meantime, someone else has gotten a cold, and so they pick up another one. And it seems like your child is sick the entire winter from the same cold - but they're really separate colds."

Kids will consider it especially good news that popsicles and pudding count as liquids. If a child is in pain, Tylenol and ibuprofen are options, although Rahm says a doctor should verify the correct dosage.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MO