No cold medicine for children under 6: Are You Ready for Cold and Flu Season?

Are You Prepared for Cold and Flu Season?

Now that the FDA has issued an advisory stating that children under 2 should receive no cold medicine and an outside expert panel states that no cold medicine should be given to children under 6, it is a good time to plan ahead and look for safe alternatives.   Recently, the FDA completed a review that found, between 1969 and the fall of 2006, there were 54 reported child deaths from decongestants with the active ingredients pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or ephedrine and 69 deaths from antihistamine medicines containing diphenhydramine, brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine.  Most of the deaths occurred in children under 2.  In addition, a Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention report that found more than 1,500 toddlers and babies required emergency room visits over a two-year period because of the drugs.  Fourteen children’s cold medications have been recalled: 

  • Dimetapp Decongestant Plus Cough Infant Drops
  • Dimetapp Decongestant Infant Drops
  • Little Colds Decongestant Plus Cough
  • Little Colds Multi-Symptom Cold Formula
  • PEDIACARE Infant Drops Decongestant (containing pseudoephedrine)
  • PEDIACARE Infant Drops Decongestant Cough (containing pseudoephedrine)
  • PEDIACARE Infant Dropper Decongestant (containing phenylephrine)
  • PEDIACARE Infant Dropper Long-Acting Cough
  • PEDIACARE Infant Dropper Decongestant & Cough (containing phenylephrine)
  • Robitussin Infant Cough DM Drops
  • Triaminic Infant & Toddler Thin Strips Decongestant
  • Triaminic Infant & Toddler Thin Strips Decongestant Plus Cough
  • TYLENOL Concentrated Infants’ Drops Plus Cold
  • TYLENOL Concentrated Infants’ Drops Plus Cold & Cough
  • CVS is also pulling their generic equivalents off store shelves
  • In addition, the FDA is recommending new warnings on flu drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza, after abnormal psychiatric behavior has been observed in both children and adults.  Several fatalities have been associated with these psychiatric episodes after the use of the prescription flu medications.

    Is there a safer alternative?  Some of us have used nutrients like zinc and vitamin C to help us fight off or get through a cold or the flu.  Our family has had much better results with natural remedies than with over the counter cold medications.  Most nutritional products that help fight colds and relieve symptoms work best when given at the first sign of illness, so it is important to purchase them before you or your children are sick.   It is also important to have nourishing foods and rehydration beverages in the house in preparation for cold and flu season.  Vitamins combined with good nutrition can help us be more resistant to illness in the first place.   Here are some of my favorite products:

    Defend Yourself and Resist Illness  Here is a great supplement to take when you notice the first signs of a cold coming on. It contains FOUR natural ingredients to support your immune system: echinacea, black elderberry, larch tree, and zinc. Most people are familiar with zinc and echinacea. You may not have heard of larch, which contains the active ingredient arabinogalactan to stimulate the body’s natural resistance. Black elderberry is a rich source of polyphenols and anthocyanadins, powerful phytonutrients that help maintain the immune system.   We use the following rule of thumb for herbal dosing:  Take the child’s weight and divide by 150 to find the percentage of the adult dose to give.  For the smaller ones I break the tablets in half and give just half at a time.  Often, my children only need one dose.  These can be chewed, sucked on, swallowed, or crushed and made into a soothing tea.  (It tastes great with honey!)  We are amazed at how well they work for our whole family!  They can be purchased here

    Probiotics  Most people are familiar with beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, used to make yogurt. Another “good bug” is called bifidobacterium. Did you know that having beneficial bacteria in your intestines can help you fight off illness? Sixty percent of your immune cells are located in your gastrointestinal tract. The type of bacteria that inhabit your intestinal tract have a profound influence upon your health, including your immune system. Commercial yogurts may not contain enough live bacteria to do the job. Probiotics are vulnerable to being destroyed by the stomach acid, so I prefer this triple encapsulated probiotic pearl with guaranteed live delivery of beneficial bacteria to the colon. This is a great product to take when you are showing early signs of a stomach bug.  The probiotic pearls can be given to children, but they work best if they are swallowed without chewing.  My 3 year old is able to swallow them in a spoonful of applesauce.  Homemade gelatin (preferably made with fruit juice) might work too.  For tiny babies, some parents have had success softening the pearls in water before giving them.  Babies don’t have very strong stomach acid, so the probiotics survive in their stomachs better without the encapsulation than they would in an adult’s stomach.  Some mothers have been able to place the tiny probiotic pearls in the back of a baby’s mouth, then offer the breast to help baby swallow them.  I would caution against this method as there is a risk of baby aspirating the pearl into his or her lungs.

    Garlic  Garlic has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. A recent study found that one of the active components in garlic is effective against MRSA.  While it is most effective consumed raw, most of us have not developed a taste for raw garlic! My favorite garlic complex is gently dried to prevent loss of the sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin. The garlic is not aged, as aged garlic is not consistent with how garlic is consumed in it’s natural state. The company does not try to convince consumers that it has a specific amount of one or more of the many sulfur-containing compounds that naturally result from garlic ingestion, because many of these are formed during the digestive process. Instead, each two-tablet serving provides the amount of garlic that you would get from a clove of garlic. Once you ingest the tablets the biochemical process starts and the full range of sulfur-containing compounds are then formed. In this way it is the closest a garlic supplement can be to consuming fresh garlic. Contains spearmint, which may help prevent odor.  Diane Petoskey recommends the following dosages for children:  Under one year, give a total of two tablets per 24 hours, crushed and mixed in liquid and administered with a dropper at least four times in 24 hours.  For ages 1 -3, use 3 tablets per 24 hours, divide for at least 4 doses per day mixed in food or liquid.  Ages 4-6, give 3-4 tablets per 24 hours.  Age 10, 4 – 5 tablets per day, Ages 11 – 16 and older,  4-6 tablets per day.  Divide doses to give 4 times per day for all ages. 

    Rehydrate  Often when we are sick, we get dehydrated. Of course with the stomach flu this is obvious, but keeping yourself well hydrated is important even with a simple head cold. It is a good idea to be prepared with good tasting beverages that will encourage children to take in more fluids without ingesting unhealthy artificial colors and flavors.  Hydration thins excessive secretions and makes it easier for the body to clear them. When fluids are lost, especially during a bout of the stomach flu, electrolytes are lost as well. It is important to replace both fluids and electrolytes.  For example, your body cannot absorb fluids effectively without adequate sodium. A good rehydration formula or sports drink should contain:

    1. All six electrolytes (minerals) – Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Chloride
    2. A sodium / potassium ratio of approx 2.2 to 1, for proper function of the sodium/potassium pump
    3. At least 100 mg of sodium, for effective absorption of fluids
    4. At least 20 – 25 grams of carbs in a mixture of these 3 types – fast burning – like glucose so you get immediate energy – a medium burning carb like fructose – and a slow burning carb like maltodextrin
    5. No artificial colors or flavors
    6. Should not have any “natural” herbs or performance enhancers.

    Unlike most sports beverages and pedialyte, this lemon lime drink meets all these criteria. A small canister of makes 19 servings of rehydration beverage, convenient to store in a cupboard in case illness strikes unexpectedly. Also available in orange.  No dosage limits for this, children and adults can drink as much as desired.  Sipping the lemon lime or orange drinks frequently is adviseable, especially for the stomach flu.  You can make the drinks into homemade popsicles as well, a good way to encourage taking fluids slowly when a child has been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.  For small babies, breastfeeding on demand is best during illness rather than offering other beverages.  In most cases, breastmilk is better tolerated than any other food or beverage, even during diarrhea and vomiting.

    Vitamins For Immunity  This Immune Building Formula contains the six most important vitamins for healthy immune function: vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, vitamins C, E, B6, B12 and folic acid. Also included are 3 important minerals for the immune system: copper, selenium, and zinc. It helps maintain your first line of defense, your skin, with zinc, vitamins E and C, and beta carotene. A great product to take throughout the cold and flu season. Antioxidants and rosemary extract maintain the nutrient potency in these softgels.  Nutritionist Diane Petoskey recommends this starting with 1 capsule at ages 4-6,  2 capsules around age 10,  2 – 3 capsules for 11 – 16 years and up.  Email me for more information about Diane Petoskey’s Children’s Nutrition lecture.

    Natural Interferon  If you are catching everything that comes around, this is the product for you! Here is a well-researched blend of natural plant extracts from pumpkin seeds, safflower flowers, plantago seeds, and Japanese honeysuckle flower buds, which have been clinically proven to support and stimulate the natural immune response. This product was created by Dr. Kojima, the world renowned immunologist who discovered interferon in 1954. He spent over 40 years searching for a way to increase the body’s natural production of interferon, which is activated by the immune system when a virus attacks a cell. Interferon serves two important functions. It signals neighboring cells and triggers their resistance mechanisms, and it activates other immune cells that kill invading pathogens. This is a great product for school-teachers, postal workers, health care providers, and anyone else that is exposed to a lot of germs in their line of work.  Recommended for children over 12 years and adults.  Learn more about natural interferon here.

     Stock the Freezer and Protect Your Health  The canned soups, dried soups, and bouillion cubes as the grocery store all contain MSG, a neurotoxin. Rather than consuming MSG containing foods when you are sick, it is best to use homemade. Having experienced illnesses severe enough to prevent me from preparing soup for several days, here is my solution. If you made homemade chicken soup for lunch or dinner occasionally, freeze the leftovers each time. Make a little extra each time if you need to. After I bake a chicken, I often use the leftovers for a soup base. Simmering the bones slowly in water releases extra nutrients. Cut most of the meat off before starting to simmer them, as it will retain the best flavor and texture when added near the end of the cooking time after the bones are removed. Even just broth is great to have in the freezer for sickness. Then when you need a nourishing meal to get well, you can walk to your freezer instead of driving to the grocery store.

     If you want to make homemade gelatin using fruit juice, here is a recipe.  Mix one tablespoon unflavored gelatin powder into just enough hot water to dissolve completely, add enough cold juice to make a total of 2 cups of liquid.  Clear juices work better than pulpy juices.  Pour into a shallow container and refrigerate until firm.  You can dilute the fruit juice a little if desired.

    I hope you have a healthy fall and winter.

    The preceding information is not intended as medical advice.

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    1. Shanell said,

      November 29, 2007 at 1:14 pm

      I found your site very helpful for my son that keeps getting the stomach flu I found exactlly what I wanted from this site. Hopefully these remedies will help him to feel better and for longer periods of time rather than getting the flu every month.


    2. Shirley Lumsden said,

      August 31, 2008 at 11:35 am

      I am a firm believer in the use of good probiotics. One of our dogs, who died at age 15, had digestive challenges in later years (either nothing or unexpected diarrhea). So I put an Optiflora in his food every morning which helped a lot. When he didn’t get it, he had problems.

      I also read recently that soups made especially from the bones of chickens after throwing away any leftovers are an excellent way to help protect yourself against osteoporosis. Additional minerals are apparently released when the bones simmer.

      Of course, informed supplementation also plays a role. After I got my mother-in-law off of Fosamax which, among all the other bisphosphonates, does not support typical “bone remodeling”; i.e., osteoclast and osteoblast activity, her recent bone scan indicated an increase in bone density (she’s 90). She has been taking Shaklee Vitalea, Vita-B, Vita-C, Vita-E and the Osteo Matrix calcium/magnesium compound for two years this August. Her bone scan two years ago, after taking bisphosphonates, indicated “borderline”. Fosamax is also suspected in bringing about atrial fibrillation, which she has had in recent years. Aging can also play a part, but why encourage it by using Fosamax. There have also been some documented cases of heart attacks in Boniva users.

    3. franz said,

      November 11, 2008 at 9:45 am

      thank you for sharing this information with us. it’s really help me in knowing what better way to protect my son from the flu.

    4. Susan said,

      December 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm

      Thank you so much for the helpful information. My twin girls are having dental surgery next week and I discovered elderberry, and was wondering how good it was. this is a great site. thanks!

    5. infant seats said,

      November 25, 2009 at 10:36 am

      Very good information. 🙂 I like the way you write your article.

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