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Vapor rub relieves cold symptoms for children, helps them sleep better
Date:11/8/2010

Applying a vapor rub is effective for treating children with night-time cough and congestion and improves sleep for children with cold symptoms, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

"Upper respiratory infections are the most common acute illnesses in the world," said Ian Paul, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences. "Symptoms caused by these infections are disruptive for children, and often disturb sleep for both ill children and their parents, with an impact on subsequent daytime activities. Safe and effective, evidence-based treatments are desperately needed by parents and healthcare providers for children."

Recent studies by Paul and colleagues at the Penn State College of Medicine looked at the efficacy of oral over-the-counter treatments such as dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine for upper respiratory infection symptoms. They found the preparations no more effective than a placebo. Vapor rubs, containing menthol, camphor and eucalyptus oils, have been used for over a century without published evidence to support their use.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of over-the-counter oral cough and cold medications for children due to a lack of evidence of efficacy and the potential for side effects," Paul said. "The question of whether clinicians can recommend a vapor rub topical treatment to treat cold symptoms required evaluation."

Paul and his research team recruited 138 children ages 2 to 11 for the study. Parents assessed their child's symptoms the night before enrollment in the study. Each child was then randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: Vicks VapoRub, petroleum jelly placebo, and no treatment. Parents of children receiving the vapor rub or petroleum jelly massaged the treatment into their child's neck and chest 30 minutes before bedtime.

The randomized study was partially double-blinded. Medical staff did not know what treatment
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Contact: Matt Solovey
msolovey@hmc.psu.edu
717-531-0003
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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