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Over the Counter Cough Medicines Not for Young Children

Doctors are warning parents not to grab their cough medicine to treat their sick child.

Dr. Kevin Dahlman, the medical director for children's health for Aurora Health Care, says it's because children don't react to medications the way adults do.

Dr. Dahlman recommends that, for children under 12, it's best not to give them over-the-counter cold medication.

"We've found that these products lack the proper research and safety data, and they often contain stimulants that can increase heart rate. It may be tempting to give your young child cold medication, but usually, the child just needs plenty of rest, fluids and healthy foods."

If your child is prescribed antibiotics or prescription cough medicine, definitely follow the instructions from your doctor and give your child the prescribed amount of medication, including the full dosage of antibiotics.

But there are are also natural options.

If your child has a head cold, you can use nasal saline spray to help with congestion. A cold air humidifier in the bedroom at night also helps with congestion. Ibuprophen or acetaminophen can be given to help with a fever.

Honey can help suppress coughs and is safer than over-the-counter cough medicine. Warm liquids help thin out mucus, plus they help soothe sore throats.

And the simple rule of thumb remains: get plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids is often the best way to get over a cold.

It's best to call the doctor if your child doesn't get better after a few days, or if they experience a high fever, vomiting, chills and shakes, a hacking cough or extreme fatigue. These could be signs of something more severe, like the flu.

Also, if your child has asthma, diabetes, or other health conditions, call your doctor to talk about treatment options, as they can be different for children with these conditions.

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