Health Tip: Giving Cough Medicine to a Child

(HealthDay News) -- It's perfectly normal for parents to be concerned when a child comes home sneezing and coughing with what appears to be the common cold, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

But cough medicine may not be the best remedy, the agency warns.

It says some cough medicines could have life-threatening side effects, such as slowed breathing. This is especially true among babies and young children.

A typical cold will run its course within a week. So the FDA says it may be better to treat symptoms with nothing more than plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks to help soothe a sore throat.

The agency offers these guidelines:

  • The FDA doesn't recommend over-the-counter cough or cold medicines for children younger than age 2 years.
  • Caregivers should carefully read labels on OTC cough and cold products, because some may contain codeine.
  • Prescription cough medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone should not be given to children under 18 years old.

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