January 5, 2009

How to treat cold and flu in kids

U.S. doctors urge parents to resist the urge to give young children cough and cold medication because of potentially serious side effects.

The over-the-counter medicines can have such side effects as hives, drowsiness, difficulty breathing and even death in children under age 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned.

Some 7,000 children end up in the emergency room each year because of problems associated with these medicines, Dr. Esther Yoon of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in statement.

To ease pain from a harsh cough or throat pain, doctors recommend using acetaminophen and ibuprofen in age-appropriate doses, Yoon said. She suggests parents also use:

-- Nasal saline drops.

-- A teaspoon of honey or corn syrup for coughs in children over age 1. Have the child drink warm fluids like water, apple juice and chicken broth to help with coughing.

-- Steam to relax airways and help with coughing spasms. Take the child into the bathroom and run a hot shower.

-- Increase home humidity to reduce nasal congestion and coughing.