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Do Not Give Decongestants to Your Children for Common Cold Symptoms, Say Experts

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

There is no evidence that decongestants, with or without antihistamines or analgesics, work for cold symptoms, and they should never be given to children under age 6, experts say. Use caution for kids age 6 to 12, MedicalXpress warns, as the safety of giving these over-the-counter drugs (OTCs) to children is questionable. As far as efficacy goes, there is only a small evidence that they work, even with adults. For the record, most cold symptoms run their course in seven to 10 days.

Since colds and flu are caused by viruses, we know that antibiotics are not effective treatments, so it’s only natural to look for OTC) remedies to alleviate symptoms. The thing is, as the featured news article suggests, those remedies not only don’t work or are even dangerous, especially for children.

Many remedies contain aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), all of which may suppress your body's ability to produce antibodies and fight the cold — completely opposite of your goal to get better as quickly as possible.

Not only that, if you have flu symptoms, your physician may even offer prescription antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, which has known serious adverse effects, not to mention antivirals don’t work with colds anyway. So, what can you do to relieve cold symptoms?

If you’re coughing or have a sore throat, one effective natural remedy that’s been embraced by medical professionals is honey. Raw honey (Manuka is the best) has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help with both coughs and colds. But even then, don’t expect it to “cure” your cold, as you would have to overdose on the honey in order to achieve the effect of treating the virus in your body.

Another old-fashioned remedy that’s been a “mom’s go-to” for hundreds of years is chicken soup, as well as homemade broth. Although the biological basis for using chicken soup is unknown, a team of researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center found evidence that chicken soup — both homemade and from the can — had anti-inflammatory properties that could prevent the side effects of a cold.

For a list of other suggested natural remedies for a cold, see my article, “Natural Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t.” And, don’t forget — the best “treatment” of all is prevention, and the best prevention is to wash your hands.

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