OTC cough & Cold medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a public health advisory issued recently,
warned parents that "Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products should not be used
to treat children less than 2 years"
Where is Indian FDA's warning?
Is it really NOT to be given?
These Over The Counter (OTC) medicines, or I should "As shown on TV" treatment
for cold and cough ONY treat symptoms and not the underlying condition. These have not been
shown to be safe or effective in children under the age of 2 yr."
OTC cough and cold preparations commonly include nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough
suppressants, and expectorants. These drugs do cause serious and potentially
life-threatening adverse effects in young children. Commonly reported side effects are fast
heart rates, altered levels of consciousness, convulsion and even death.
What about children above 2 yrs? Are these drugs safe?
No! Not absolutely safe! Following pointers while using OTC drugs will help parents:
° The products should be manufactured by a company of repute. Do not purchase products
of lesser or not well known companies.
° Ask your family doctors whether a particular drug can be used for minor ailments/
before you take your child to the doctor.
° Always follow the directions on the product label carefully and use only recommended
dosage and that too with a measuring spoons or cups that are provided.
° Common household spoons should not be used as they come in different sizes and are
not meant for measuring medicines.
° Read the active ingredients in each cough and cold product, particularly if it
contains more than one drug molecule or you are using more than one product; as both may
contain similar/ same active ingredients.
° If you wish to switch from one to another drug, compare the contents. It may so
happen that you are giving the same medicine, albeit in another name.
° Combining different OTC products increases the risk for overdose/ adverse effects.
° In India OTC products with childproof safety caps are not yet available hence keeping
them out of reach of children is important as children are known have consumed a large
quantity just because they liked the flavour/ taste.
° Keep in mind that OTC cough and cold medicines do NOT treat the underlying disease;
they just relieve symptoms.
° Even if a particular product helps your child sleep better, PLEASE do not use it as a
° Do not rely on a OTC product for more than 24-48 hrs. Contact your doctor; Let him
tell there is nothing to be worried about.
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