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Parents: Never Give Over-the-Counter Cough Remedies to Your Kids. Here’s Why

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

It may be tempting to run to the store and grab a cough syrup off the shelf when your child has a stuffy nose, the sneezes or nonstop coughing, but don’t do it. These over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, which often include decongestants or antihistamines, not only might not help your child, but could cause harm, Business Insider reports.

Drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems and severe conditions like convulsions and rapid heart rate are just some of the possible side effects — as well as death. The recommendations against OTC cough meds come from pediatricians, who say never give children under 6 these concoctions, and to be very careful if you give them to children ages 6 to 12.

This is an opportune time to review natural cold remedies for both children and adults, and to remind you that, no matter how unwell you feel, antibiotics are not going to help a cold or flu, as they are caused by viruses — something antibiotics don’t treat. In fact, studies show that giving antibiotics when they’re not called for could actually lengthen the time you’re sick.

The good news is there are many ways to help shorten the time you’re down with a virus. If you’re trying to help a child who’s coughing, one remedy that’s approved by health officials and which I whole-heartedly recommend is a dose of raw honey. And for the doubting-Thomases out there, studies have shown that honey is as effective for coughs as a cough syrup or cough drops. (Just remember: Honey is a sugar, so you don’t want to take it in large amounts.)

Another great treatment for coughs and colds that is safe for children is something that would make your grandma proud: chicken soup. 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 (I don’t recommend canned, though) — had anti-inflammatory properties that could prevent the side effects of a cold.

As an adult, if you’re thinking of supplementing, some vitamins that can help you during this time include vitamins C, D, A and E. Zinc is another supplement you might try, as zinc is nutritionally essential for immune function.

However, remember that too much zinc interferes with copper bioavailability and too much iron can reduce your absorption of zinc. Foods rich in zinc include lobster, oysters, beef, crab, pork, cashews, chickpeas, chicken and Swiss cheese.

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