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Caution Urged When Giving Kids Cold and Flu Meds
Date:1/5/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's cold and flu season, which means misery for kids and the parents trying to help them.

But doctors are asking parents to resist the urge to give children under the age of 6 over-the-counter cough and cold medication.

Such drugs can have serious side effects on the smallest of children, the Food and Drug Administration warns. Side effects include hives, drowsiness, difficulty breathing and even death.

"Some 7,000 children end up in the emergency room each year because of problems associated with these medicines," says Esther Yoon, M.D., general pediatrician in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan Health System.

Roughly two-thirds of incidents occurred after children drank medication while unsupervised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most problems have occurred as a result of dosing errors.

To ease pain from a harsh cough or throat pain, doctors recommend using over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen in age-appropriate doses, Yoon says.

    To relieve symptoms, doctors recommend the following:

    -- For blocked noses, parents should use nasal saline drops and a
       bulb suction to loosen up and remove mucus or have the child
       blow their nose.

    -- For coughs, the child should be given a teaspoon of honey or
       corn syrup if over the age of 1. Have the child drink warm
       fluids like water, apple juice and chicken broth to help with
       coughing.

    -- Take the child into the bathroom and run a hot shower. The steam
       relaxes the airways and helps with coughing spasms.

    -- Increase the humidity in the home to help reduce nasal
       congestion and coughing.

Parents can help prevent colds by washing hands frequently, using instant hand sanitizers, tea
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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