Cough Medicine for Kids: Things to keep in mind

Children get coughs and colds due to their exposure to the numerous amount of bacteria and viruses that they are exposed to. This helps them to build up their immune system to be able to fight other bacteria and viruses. When a child has a cough, it can be treated at home without seeing a healthcare professional, but only on a short basis. With all the cough remedies out there, knowing what each cough medicine for children is and understanding the label is important. Here are some tips and definitions to buying children’s cough medicine.


Things to remember while treating children cough:

We easily pop an aspirin whenever it is required, but if you are giving it to a child who have cough due to a viral infection it could be dangerous. Aspirin is known to cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome. Hence do not give aspirin to your child unless the doctor recommends it.

Read The Label

Many cough syrups for children have additives. They will have things such as acetaminophen and dextromethorphan in them. This list will show what each additive does.

  1. Acetaminophen: This is a fever reducer. Also known as Tylenol, care needs to taken about the amounts of acetaminophen given to a child as it metabolized mainly in the kidneys and there is a potential for kidney damage if given too much. Look at the recommended daily dose, and then adjust Tylenol doses accordingly with the amount that is in the cough syrup.
  2. Dextromethorphan: This is a cough suppressant. Found in many OTC children’s cough syrup, it is not recommended for use in children under 4 years old
  3. Guaifenesin: This is a cough suppressant. This another common additive found in children’s cold medicines. It is not recommended for children under 4 years of age.
  4. Pseudoephedrine: Also known as Sudafed, this is a decongestant. It helps shrink dilated blood vessel which can cause the runny nose and itchy eyes. However, it has proven safe for children under 6 years old.
  5. Phenylephrine: This is another decongestant. Care needs to be taken with this medications as it has shown to cause hypertension in children. Not recommended for children under 6.
  6. Diphenhydramine: Also known as Benadryl, this is an antihistamine that will help to relieve certain allergy symptoms that can be associated with cold. This will make a child sleepy, so care needs to be taken when giving this. It has not been proven safe or effective in children under 5.

These additives can give some relief to cough, cold, and allergy symptoms. Care needs to be taken about additives and drug interactions. Also, checking any cough syrup for children for similar medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to make sure that a child is not receiving too high of a dose is imperative. Never give OTC cold medications to a child under 4 without consulting a healthcare professional.

Check The Dosage

Every medication has a recommended dose. Checking to make sure that the doge being give is correct is imperative. This means the right amount at the right time. Giving a cough medicine for children more often or an amount more than recommended is extremely dangerous. Because children’s cough syrup was actually tested on adults and then adjusted for children, there are still some safety concerns, especially about liver and kidney toxicity.

Use a measured teaspoon for dosages. The teaspoons found in the home often are not the correct amount. They can be too little or too much. Measure teaspoons and droppers can be purchased at any pharmacy.

Talk To The Pharmacist

The pharmacist has education in pharmaceutical medications. This includes the over-the-counter medications. Checking with a pharmacist about the best choice for a child will guide a parent on safe choices based on the child’s weight, age, other medications currently taking and specific cough symptoms.

What to do with a toddler’s cough?

If your toddler has a cough you try giving antihistamines, but these should be administered only after consulting a doctor. The antihistamines that we adults take to suppress sneezing, coughs and sniffles may not necessarily be a safe cough medicine for toddlers. You can administer your toddler acetaminophen or ibuprofen only after consulting your doctor. If you want a cough medicine for 2 year old or infant again you can give him or her acetaminophen or ibuprofen after consulting your doctor. Do not use decongestant, expectorant, cough suppressant or antihistamine if your child is a toddler.

As with all medications, check with a healthcare provider if there is any concern about the medication or which one to give. If the cough symptoms persist for more than 5 days without improvement, call a healthcare provider. If the cough worsens or temperatures exceed 102 F, contact a healthcare provider immediately, it may be more than just a cold. These tips to understanding cough medicine for children will act as a guide when considering which on to choose.