Evidence shows that childrens’ cough medicines aren’t effective. Here is what you should use instead

In 2008, the FDA strongly recommended against giving children under the age of 2 years old, over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. This warning was not required of drug manufacturers by the FDA but most companies included this warning for children under 4 years old on their labels.

Evidence shows that childrens’ cold medicines aren’t effective and can cause side effects especially in young children. This information doesn’t leave parents with many options of support for their sick children.


Why are these medicines concerning

Childrens’ cough and cold medicines were often not studied in children but studied in adults. The results were then applied to children. There is no way of predicting that children and adults will have the same reactions to medications. Even in adults, effectiveness of these medications are weak.

How can these medicines negatively effect children

According to the Center for Disease Control, thousands of children 12 years and younger go to the Emergency room every year, after taking cough/cold medicine unsupervised.

Taking too much cold medicine can cause dangerous reactions. Parents also have to be careful when administering medicine to their children. Different brands may suggest different doses due to amount of active ingredients. It’s also possible to measure incorrectly during a sleepless night, or a parent may offer two different medicines not realizing the active ingredient is in both medications.

Medicines in question

• Cough expectorant (guaifenesin)
• Cough suppressant (dextromenthorphan or DM)
• Antihistamines (brompheniramine, chlorpheniramime maleate, and diphenhydramine [Benadryl]

These are active ingredients found in many common brands of childrens’ cough and cold medicine. Let’s take a closer look at each of these ingredients and their possible side effects on children.

Diarrhea, dizziness, headache, hives, nausea, committing, skin rashes and stomach pain

• DM
10% of children do not process the enzyme to effectively metabolize this drug.
Even more concerning… Medicines containing this ingredient have become increasingly popular for its “high” effect. “Sizzurp, Purple Drank, or Lean”, is made with DM which some teens make to get high or drunk with.


-Short term (acute toxic effects) include:
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, allergic reactions, rapid heart rate, hot flashes, fainting, dizziness, psychotic breaks (in high doses), poisoning from Bromide Ions (can cause sedation), loss of balance, slurred speech, nystagmus (eyeballs shaking), mood changes, perceptual alterations, pancreatic failure, liver failure, cognitive degeneration and toxic psychosis.

-Long term toxic effects include:
Death, psychological addiction, depression, poisoning from Bromide Ions, irreversible brain damage, hallucinations, and seizures.

• Brompheniramine, chlorpheniramime maleate, and diphenhydramine [Benadryl] Seizures, nightmares, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and allergic reactions.
Should you give your child cough or cold medicine
The overall risks are low but they 80o9l93are not low enough according to some experts. Since there is no evidence that these medicines can provide you child with relief, some people believe it is not worth the risk. Most experts suggest waiting until your child is 6 years old before giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicine.

-The current FDA recommendations:
• Unless advised by a doctor, do not give cough or cold medicine to children under 4 years old

• Never give children, adult medications

• Always check with your doctor if your child is on prescription medication, before offering any over-the-counter medications

• Carefully follow the dosing instructions labeled on the box of the medicine
• Always use the spoon, dosing cup, or dropper that was included with the medicine

• Bring your child in for a doctor visit if symptoms worsen or don’t improve in a few days

How can you help your sick child
• If your child is 3 months old or younger, call the doctor at the first signs of illness

• Saline drops or spray may help clear thick nasal mucus with the additional help of a bulb syringe

• Run a cool mist humidifier at night in your child’s room to add moisture to the air

• Add pillows under your child’s head (or under the head of their mattress, for younger children) to elevate their heads, to help ease some congestion

• Cool air from outside or from the freezer may also help ease a cough

• Consider the natural cough syrup recipe I have included

• If you hear any wheezing or pulling in of the skin by your child’s collar bone or ribs, call your doctor right away

I believe a little homemade chicken soup and some extra cuddle time goes along way.

Natural Cough Syrup that Works

-3 cups (roughly 3 slices) organic pineapple (including the core)
– juice from 1 lemon
– 1 thumb-size piece of peeled fresh organic ginger
-1/4 cup organic raw  honey
-2 tbsp organic unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil
– 1/4 tsp organic cayenne pepper

1. Give pineapple a rough chop, including the core (which is healthy and edible).
2. Blend everything together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
3. Use as is, or press mixture through a mesh strainer to get a smoother syrup.
4. Keep refrigerated.

Take one tsp every three hours as needed.

*Do not give anything with honey to children under 1 year old. If you have a persistent cough, seek medical attention.