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Diane E. Pappas, MD, JD


Cough and Cold Treatments for Children:

March 01, 2008

Despite the plethora ofover-the-counter cough and cold medicationsdesigned to relieve a variety ofsymptoms of the common cold-primarilynasal congestion, rhinorrhea, and cough-no treatment has been shown to have anybeneficial effect in children, and some maycarry a substantial risk of adverse effects.Even routine symptomatic therapies suchas antipyretics and humidified air maybe counterproductive. Parental educationis the best medicine. Parents need tounderstand the duration and expectedsymptoms of the common cold. Advisethem about specific changes in symptoms(eg, rapid or labored breathing) or duration(eg, a cold lasting 10 days or morewithout improvement) that would warranta re-evaluation by their child's physician.Parents also need to be educated aboutthe lack of proven efficacy and the potentialadverse effects of available cold remedies.Saline nose drops and adequate fluidsas well as antipyretics for bothersomefever may provide limited symptomatic relief,but time is still the only known cure.