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Cough and cold preparation for children


Non-prescription Cough and Cold Preparation refers to products used in the management of cough and cold symptoms which, can be purchased without prescriptions issued by medical officers. These products can be purchased at pharmacies and are often categorized as over-the-counter (OTC) or List C items, which mean items that, can be sold by pharmacist provided that the sale is recorded in the prescription book.

Starting in 2008, U.S Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) had issued a warning on the use of cough and cold preparation in children. In its warning, the USFDA recommends cough and cold preparations that can be dispensed without prescription are not to be used in children below 2 years of age. This is due to the possibility of serious adverse events occurrence which may lead to death.

The USFDA reports also mentioned that the use of over the counter cough and cold preparations is not effective in treating children below 6 years of age. However the USFDA is still on continuous monitoring of the matter in order to ensure the safety level of the preparations in children.

Parents should be provided with additional information on the function of over the counter cough and cold preparation. This is due to the fact that these preparations are used to control the symptoms and not to alleviate the condition.

Tips on the Use of Cough and Cold Preparations in Children for Parents

There are a few tips that can be used by parents as guidance in managing their children when they are affected by cough and cold.

  1. Do not give adult cough and cold preparations to children. The preparation for adults is not suitable in children.
  2. Ask your pharmacists or doctors if you have any enquiry or problem on the cough and cold preparation taken.
  3. Opt for cough products with safety caps for children if possible or always ensure that the cap is tightened after use.
  4. Keep the cough and cold preparation away from CHILDREN.
  5. Check the labels and ensure that you know the active ingredients contained in the products. Read the drug information which can be found in product’s insert. This may help you in recognizing the symptoms that can be managed by the active ingredients of the products. Cough and cold medications usually contain more than one active ingredient such as decongestant, cough suppressant, expectorant or pain killers.
  6. Be careful when giving your child more than one type of cough and cold preparation. Make sure that both products given do not contain the same active ingredients; this is to avoid the child from receiving more than the intended dose.
  7. Make sure that you read thoroughly the instruction on how to take the medication as stated in the drug facts of the products insert. This information may tell you the dose and frequency of the drug uptake. Overuse or misuse of these products may lead to serious side effects such as breathing difficulties, palpitations and seizures.
  8. Always use the measuring device enclosed with the products and avoid domestic household spoons or cups since these utensils may give you varied measurement. If the measuring device is not enclosed you may purchase syringes from any pharmacy outlets.
  9. You need to understand that the use of over the counter cough and cold preparation is only indicated for management of the symptoms such as blocked nose, fever and pain but never to alleviate the condition.
  10. It is normal for children to experience fever, cough and cold along their growth process. Most coughs and colds get better without complications and normally they recover on their own. Fever, cough and cold can be managed through a good rest, adequate hydration and ensuring the child is always comfortable.
  11. Cough and cold may be a symptom of other underlying diseases, due to this matter, seek doctor’s advice if no changes observed in your children or the health condition declines.
Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Siti Nurul Fathihah bt. Baharudin
Reviewer : Nur Azibahwati bt. Aziz