Cold remedies may not be right for kids

People's Pharmacy

February 06, 1996|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My 4-year-old is suffering her third cold this winter. I hate to see her so miserable with a drippy nose and a temperature, and I'd like to give her something to relieve her symptoms. I remember hearing last year that's a bad idea. What's the best cold remedy for kids?

A. You may have heard about the study showing that a high proportion of preschoolers are given over-the-counter remedies although there is not good research supporting the use of these drugs in children. Kids may be exposed to possible side effects for the sake of unproven benefits.

Cold remedies don't speed recovery, so symptoms should be treated only if the child is uncomfortable. A mild fever may not need treatment. Check with your daughter's doctor about when to give fever-reducing medication such as acetaminophen. Chicken soup and TLC may help a child feel better without the risk of a reaction.

Is there anything I should know about the new pain reliever Orudis KT? I take it for my bad back.

Orudis KT and Actron are both new brands of over-the-counter strength ketoprofen. Like ibuprofen or naproxen, ketoprofen is effective at treating pain, fever, inflammation and menstrual cramps.

I take 1000 IU of vitamin E every day and wonder about side effects. Could it cause insomnia?

Most studies suggest few side effects for vitamin E up to the high dose you take.

To discover if it is causing your sleeplessness, why not experiment for a week or two without the vitamin?

My son is a freshman in college. He called last week to say he had the flu and a fever. He was taking aspirin. That worries me. Isn't this a risk for Reye's syndrome?

Yes. While very rare, Reye's syndrome can strike adolescents. Aspirin is discouraged for children and teens who have the flu or chicken pox.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.

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