Kids are not small adults. That may seem like something so obvious that it goes without saying. Yet for decades the doses for many medicines, including over the counter cough and cold medicines were set by just starting with adult doses and reducing them according to children’s smaller size. It turns out, this often does not work. Kids deserve better.
Before puberty, the hormonal environment within children’s bodies is significantly different than the hormonal environment in adults. Children’s bodies are set in the “rapid growth and development mode”. Young adults are in the “maintain and reproduce mode”. Medicines that work well, or are harmful, for one group may not be for the other.
None of us want to see children feel miserable – for their sake or for ours. We want remedies when they feel sick.
You can clean out the medicine cabinet of decongestants for your baby. There is no evidence that they reduce congestion, runny nose, or sneezing in young children. But they can cause side effects that affect both the health of the baby and the environment.
The American College of Chest Physicians has advised health care professionals against using chemical cough suppressants young children because of actual deaths documented with their use. These deaths were related to dosages high above the recommended amount, but nevertheless, these products present a risk with little if any benefit.
Children deserve treatments where their benefit and safety has been carefully considered – remedies that are mild yet effective. Here are my stuffy nose and cough remedies for kids.
Saline Nose Drops (a simple saltwater solution) will loosen mucus so it is easily removed with a bulb syringe. They also have a gentle decongestant and antiviral effect.
Gravity too plays a sound role in treating congestion. You’ve probably felt the way sinus congestion eases when you sit up after lying down for a while. Your baby will gain the same benefit if you keep his head a bit higher than his heart.
Vaporizer or Humidifier can help thin thick mucus. The mucus will become thinner as it pulls in the moisture from the air, allowing it to discharge more easily. (Keep in mind, though, that if the air stays too moist too long, it can encourage mold growth.)
Herbal and Food-Based Remedies made with elderberry, lemon, spearmint, and other ingredients known to ease congestion, calm coughing or support the immune system.