Pasco pediatrician: Avoid cough syrups, they don't work
PASCO, Wash. — As the fall weather sets in, so do the nagging coughs and head colds.
But health professionals are warning parents about a common cold remedy.
"We've had children die of an overdose, where parents keep giving the cough medicine, and keep giving it, and these dosages are not correct for their age."
Dr. Sharon Ahart with Lourdes Health told Action News she's doesn't like cough-syrups claiming to be for sniffling, and sneezing, and aching.
She said they don't work and are potentially toxic.
"Why put your kids in danger when they're not effective? Studies show that the best thing for a child's cough is tea with honey and lemon."
She said there are no studies proving an exact dose for kids under six, and the risk of overdose goes up because over-the-counter combination medicines are advertised as one-size-fits-all.
They can't account for your child's weight or need because they're pre-mixed.
"You would have to look at the medication, tell me what's in each of the medications, and I will have to give you individual dosing for that. However, on the cough suppressants, we do not have a recommendation out there for the dosages. At all."
Dr. Ahart said cough medicines also tend to mask symptoms she needs to know about.
"One thing that we will tell you is, watch your child. If they develop a fever of 101 or greater, give us a call. If you're giving a combination medicine which has a fever reduction in it, how do I know if your child is getting worse?"
She said colds are a pain, but they're part of childhood.
If parents have kids younger than 12 years old, the pediatrician said she tells parents to plan on nine or ten colds each year,
"They have to build up their immunity. When they go back to school, expect it. They're touching their nose, they're touching their eyes."
She advises parents to have their kids wash their hands and their face first thing after getting home from school.
Once the sniffles arrive, she said to make sure kids know how to blow their nose.
If they're too young, she advises using a suction bulb, because they've got to get the snot out.
Sometimes, she said, parents don't like those options,
"I say to the parent, 'Okay, when you get a cold, you aren't allowed to blow your nose the entire day. Then tell me how you feel."
She said there's no microwave when it comes to colds, you just have to ride it out,
"It's a self-limiting illness and supportive care is the best thing. If you keep the upper-airway clean, you're going to keep the lower airway clean. It will pass in time."