Saline Is Safe Alternative To Harmful Cough, Cold Products

Armen Hareyan's picture
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In a press release earlier this year, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory for parents and caregivers, recommending that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products should not be used to treat infants and children less than two years of age because serious and potentially life-threatening side effects can occur from suchuse.

"The FDA strongly recommends to parents and caregivers that OTC cough and cold medicines not be used for children younger than two," said Charles Ganley, M.D., director of the FDA's Office of Nonprescription Products, in the advisory. "These medicines, which treat symptoms and not the underlying condition, have not been shown to be safe or effective in children under two."

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OTC cough and cold products include decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants. As a direct response to the FDA's Public Health Advisory, parents and caregivers are seeking natural cold relief treatments for infants and children.

"Upper respiratory infections in babies are frequent reasons for parents to visit urgent care centers and emergency rooms," said Elisa Silverstein, M.D., Attending Physician, Emergency Department, The Children's Mercy Hospital of Kansas City. "Nasal congestion can be quite troubling especially in the very young infant, prior to the ability to mouth breathe. The congestion can significantly impact the baby's ability to be breastfed or bottlefed. As pediatricians, we have long recommended the use of saline drops such as Baby Ayr followed by a bulb syringe as the best, safest way to help clear nasal passages of the infant. Often times the doctor visit for the nasal congestion culminates in the instruction of this technique and the education that decongestants are not safe for the infant and child."

A cold usually lasts about a week. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, and sore throat. Most of the time, a cold will go away by itself. But for those parents and caregivers concerned about making infants and children feel more comfortable, saline nasal drops are an effective alternative to the treatments the FDA cautions against.

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