sick boy articleUse medications that work to help kids’ cold and flu symptoms this winter, say experts

Recently the UK’s medicines regulator advised that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should no longer be used in children under six years of age due to there being no clear evidence of their efficacy and reports of serious side effects such as hallucinations and allergic reactions. Last year, Australian regulators restricted some cough and cold medications to prescription only in children under two years.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has now announced it will be carrying out a review of the available safety and efficacy data for all ingredients used in registered cough and cold medicines to determine if any changes should be made to their availability and use in children aged two to twelve years.

According to pharmacy academic Professor Peter Carroll, media coverage on these topics is likely to have left many parents and carers uncertain about which medications they should be using to help manage cold and flu symptoms in their children, in particular as winter approaches.

“Parents should be advised to keep children well hydrated and give them plenty of rest. However, if a parent wishes to give their child medication to relieve symptoms, then paracetamol is often a good first choice. We know it works to relieve symptoms such as pain and fever and it is generally very well tolerated” said Professor Carroll.

“Of course, parents should monitor their children closely, and if their child’s condition deteriorates, they should seek professional advice from a pharmacist or general practitioner.”

Research also suggests that young children could be at a higher risk of therapeutic error as a result of medication switching and use of cough and cold preparations1. Parents can reduce the possibility of error by keeping treatment simple, sticking to proven medications like paracetamol and following all the dosage instructions on the packaging.

“To avoid adverse events as a result of dosage errors and multiple medication use, parents should be advised to simplify treatment to one effective first line medication like paracetamol for the treatment of childhood winter ailments. This kind of approach can help take the worry out of winter ailments for parents, and reduce the risk of any medication errors and possible adverse effects,” said Professor Caroll.

Source:GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.


1. David McD Taylor, Jeffrey Robinson, Dawson McLeod, Catherine E MacBean, George Braitberg, Therapeutic errors among children in the community setting: nature, causes and outcomes, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 2009