The DCA recommends all healthcare professionals to use cough and cold products containing decongestants, antihistamines and anti-tussives as a single ingredient or in combination when benefits have been assessed to outweigh the risks. The following recommendations need to be considered when prescribing or dispensing these products to patients:
Children of all ages:
- If it is necessary to give a cough and cold product to a child, make sure all labels and instructions are read before doing so. If the product does not contain dosing information for children then it should not be used in children.
- Do not give a child a larger dose or more frequently than it is recommended in the labeling and instructions.
- Take note of the medicinal ingredients in the product especially if more than than one product may be given to a child. Be aware that many products contain the same medicinal ingredient(s) and combined use could lead to overdose. Some herbs used in cough and cold products and some over-the-counter products used to control fever may also have medicinal ingredients similar to those in other cough and cold products.
- It is advised not to give more than one cough and cold products to a child as cough and cold products often contain multiple ingredients.
- There is no cure for the common cold. Children will usually recover from coughs and colds in time on their own. The common cold is a mild,viral infection that can be managed by rest, sufficient fluid intake and comfort measures.
- In young children and babies, it is sometimes important to rule out serious illnesses (for e.g. pneumonia or other infections) which may present with cold-like symptoms; this is especially important if symptoms persist or if the child's condition deteriorates.