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Cold Season is Here – What You Need to Know About Cold Medicine Safety

cold season

This time of year brings holiday excitement, winter fun and sometimes the sniffles. There is no cure for the cold, but there are over the counter medications that can help relieve some of its symptoms. If you are treating a child who has a cold, we want to provide important information on cold medicine safety during this cold season.

If your child is an infant or under four years old.

If your child is under four years old, it is important to know that giving cough and cold medicines is not safe and may cause life-threatening side effects. See our fact sheet on Cold Medicine Safety for medicine that should never be given to infants and children under four, here.

If you use cough and cold medicines for children four years old and older.

  • Always read labels before buying our using medicine. Do NOT give children medications that are labeled for adults.
  • Make sure to read and use the recommended dosage that is on the label.
  • Use only the measuring spoons or cups that come in the box or those made for measuring drugs. You do not want to give your child more than what the medication says on the label—and this is the safest way to avoid that.
  • Check the “active ingredients” section of the Drug Facts label. Each ingredient is intended to treat certain symptoms. Make sure the medicine you are using treats the symptoms your child has.
  • Be very careful when giving more than one medication to a child. Two medications may have the same “active ingredient”. If you use multiple medications with the same ingredient, your child will get more doses than what is recommended.
  • If the symptoms do not get better in a few days, bring your child to the doctor.

What else can you do if your child has a cold?

If your child is younger than 3 months, call or see the doctor at the first signs of a cold. If your child is 3 months or older, you can usually treat cold symptoms at home.

  • Give plenty of fluids to your child.
  • Run a humidifier to moisten the air.
  • Seek medical help right away if your child’s cold becomes more serious.

When in doubt on how to treat your child, be sure to call your pediatrician.

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