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Misuse of Vicks VapoRub may harm infants and toddlers
Date:1/12/2009

secretion due to the inflammation. Mucus clearance, as measured by ciliary beat frequency in the trachea, also decreased by 36 percent during in vitro testing.

VVR is not indicated for patients under age 2. However, Dr. Rubin realizes that some parents are still choosing to use VVR to relieve their sick young child's symptoms, usually rubbing the salve on the feet or chest.

"I recommend never putting Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybodyadult or child. I also would follow the directions and never use it at all in children under age 2," said Dr. Rubin. Even when directions are followed, VVR may make people with congestion feel more comfortable, but it does nothing to increase airflow or actually relieve congestion. "Some of the ingredients in Vicks, notably the menthol, trick the brain into thinking that it is easier to breathe by triggering a cold sensation, which is processed as indicating more airflow. Vicks may make you feel better but it can't help you breathe better." Dr. Rubin also feels that although the study only tested Vick's VapoRub, similar products, including generic brands, could cause the same adverse reaction in infants and toddlers.

In addition to VVR, decongestants are not recommended for young children; however, there are other treatments that are safe and effective.

"Cough and cold medicines and decongestants are dangerous and neither effective nor safe for young children. Medications to dry up nasal passages also have problems," said Dr. Rubin. "The best treatments for congestion are a bit of saline (salt water) and gentle rubber bulb suction, warm drinks or chicken soup, and, often, just letting the passage of time heal the child." Dr. Rubin also notes that if a child is struggling to breathe, it is a medical emergency and would require the child to be seen by a doctor as quickly as possible.

"Parents should consult with a physician before administering any over-the-counter medicine to infants
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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