I knew too much medicine could be dangerous for children, but this dangerous? Five-year-old Kimber Michelle Brown died from an overdose of two over-the-counter cold medicines while she was staying with her grandmother.
According to her autopsy, she had twice the limit of dextromethorphan (found in cough syrup) and high levels of Cetrizine (found in cold medicine). Coroner Dr. Carol Huser says it was the combination of these two medications that killed Kimber. And Dr. Huser thinks this horrible incident should be an important reminder to us: "People do not understand medication you buy off the supermarket shelf can be harmful. Common drugs like aspirin, Tylenol, and Benadryl will kill you if you take too much of them." For that matter, should we be giving young children under 6 cold medicine at all?
Pediatricians don't recommend cold medicine for children under 4, and many don't recommend it for older children, either. As with adult cold medications, these medicines may treat the symptoms but they won't cure your cold or even help you get well faster. And the risks from overdose and side effects aren't worth the relief for children. Here's what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for relieving symptoms.
Stuffy nose: Saline nose drops and cool vapor mist.
Cough: Honey -- seriously. Half a teaspoon of honey for children aged 2 to 5 years, 1 teaspoon for children aged 6 to 11 years, and 2 teaspoons for children 12 years and older. It's not considered safe to give honey to babies under 1 year. This works for adults, too!
Fever, aches, and pains: For babies under 6 months, acetaminophen, and for children over 6 months, acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your pediatrician.
And here's something I didn't know: Leg pain, cramps, and muscle spasms can be symptoms that your child has had toxic levels of medication. So if your child does end up getting cold medicine, watch out for those symptoms.
Have you ever treated your children with cold medicine? Do you have favorite homeopathic remedies for cold symptoms?
Image via watashiwani/Flickr