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Children's Cough, Cold & Flu Remedies

Children’s cold medicine and cough syrup can help control the symptoms of the common cold and the flu. Always remember to consult your child’s physician before administering any over the counter medication, or if you are concerned about symptoms.

Kids cold medicine is appropriate for older children, but if you have a toddler or infant, choose baby cold medicine. The main difference between infant cold medicine and cold medicine for kids is that the baby formulation has very low alcohol content. If you want to avoid alcohol completely, natural baby cough medicine like Zarabee’s does not contain any drugs, alcohol, dyes, artificial flavors, or artificial sweeteners. If your baby is dealing with additional discomfort, products like Infants’ Tylenol can help to reduce fever and pain associated with a cold, the flu, and other common ailments like sore throat, headache, and toothache.

For older children, nighttime formulations can help them sleep more comfortably, and products like Mucinex Children’s can help relieve stuffy noses. Usually, over the counter cold medicine for babies and kids is enough to help them when they’re feeling under the weather. But how do you know if it’s something more than the common cold? Some signs to look for include: fast onset, fever, chills, body aches, and fatigue. If any of these are present, your child may have the flu rather than just a cold. For reference, the common cold is characterized by symptoms that build up gradually over a period of a few days and include runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and coughing. While cold medicine for babies, toddlers, and children can help control symptoms, remember that you know your kids best. If something about your baby or child seems off, always trust your instincts and check in with your pediatrician.

When it comes to giving over the counter medications to children, it is important to be cautious. In some cases, it may be best to simply skip the medicine altogether, especially since while cough and cold symptoms may be temporarily controlled with medicine, medication cannot treat or shorten the duration of a cough or cold. The symptoms will eventually go away on their own, usually in one to two weeks. If symptoms seem to linger or get noticeably worse, call your child’s doctor to make sure that your little one doesn’t have the flu or something more serious that requires medical attention. However, if your child just has a cold or cough but is feeling very uncomfortable, cough and cold medicine for kids may help them feel more comfortable while the illness runs its course.

If you do choose to give your child over the counter cough or cold remedies, pay close attention to ingredient labels. Just like adult formulations, children’s cough and cold medicine often contains multiple active ingredients. Be sure that you are not giving your little one multiple doses of the same ingredient, as this could be harmful. You should also avoid certain ingredients specifically. For example, products containing codeine should not be given to children under 12. If you are unsure if a particular ingredient or product is suitable for your child, the best person to ask is either your child’s doctor or your pharmacist. Be sure to mention your child’s age and any known health conditions your little one has so that your healthcare provider can give you accurate advice.

It is important to know that while children’s cold remedies and cough syrup for kids may be helpful to comfort your little one, if it isn’t the right course of action for you and your child, there are still things you can do to help soothe your little one. Offer age-appropriate fluids such as water, juice, or plain broth. Liquids may help thin out mucus and help your child breathe more easily. Warm liquids, including the classic chicken soup, may have a soothing effect on sore throats. Cold foods like ice cream or fruit pops may also help. For older children, you can offer tea with honey, but never give honey to a baby, as this could result in a serious infection. If your little one has body aches or a fever that is making them uncomfortable, children’s ibuprofen may help them feel more comfortable. However, be careful to administer the proper dosage, and do not give children’s ibuprofen to a child younger than 6 months. You should also not give your little one ibuprofen if he or she is vomiting regularly or dehydrated. Running a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room may help to loosen nasal secretions and make breathing feel easier for a stuffed up child. For babies who can’t blow their noses, try using a suction device such as the NoseFrida to unblock their little noses. You can also try using nasal saline to moisten your child’s nasal passages, which may reduce their discomfort. For young children, saline drops are best, but older children can use a saline spray or try nasal irrigation. Your doctor will be able to offer additional suggestions to help you keep your child comfortable through a cough or cold, and they can also diagnose and treat more severe symptoms, such as those that are caused by the flu. If you are ever concerned about symptoms or feel unsure about how to help your child, listen to your instincts and check in with your doctor.

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