In this article, you will learn whether it is safe to use a decongestant for toddlers and whether young children will be able to tolerate the chemicals in them.
Weak immune system of young children often makes them susceptible to various illnesses and infections. Toddlers can easily catch infections from other children while at play group or day care centers. Common cold and flu are amongst the common infections that plague children of this age group. Nasal or chest congestion can give a lot of trouble to your child, affecting her quality of life. While most parents liberally use a decongestant for toddlers to relieve congestion, one needs to be careful about their administration on small children.
Congestion is a result of inflammation of the sinuses in the nasal passage. This leads to blockage of nasal passage, which causes shortness of breath and irritability. A decongestant basically relieves the symptoms of congestion, such as stuffy nose, breathlessness etc. It works by constricting the blood vessels in the nose so that inflammation is reduced and the nasal passage is opened up. This can provide a lot of comfort to the child.
Phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine are the common ingredients present in the decongestants. Another ingredient, Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) was banned owing to certain health issues. Although this product relieves symptoms of congestion, it may sometimes lead to further blockage if a ‘rebound congestion effect’ occurs. Besides, side effects, like allergic reactions, hives (rare), stomach problems, drowsiness, hyperactivity, etc., are common. Severe side effects must be immediately reported to a pediatrician.
Dimetapp decongestant drops are commonly used for relieving symptoms of congestion in young children. Dimetapp is an antihistamine, which reduces the inflammation in the nasal passage. It has phenylephrine as its active ingredient. Though commonly used for pediatric congestion, dimetapp is not entirely safe for use of children under 6 years of age. If you are planning to administer these drops on your child, make sure you consult a pediatrician beforehand and administer it according to her instructions only. The recommended dosage for children of 1 to 3 years of age is 0.4 ml to 1.6 ml. Do not exceed the daily dosage beyond four doses. Side effects mentioned above are pretty common with dimetapp drops.
Pediacare is the best nasal decongestant especially formulated for children. However, one must still adhere to the pediatrician’s instructions regarding the dosage. Pediacare is available in thin strips, liquid and chewable tablet formulations. While using liquid formulation, the daily dosage should not exceed beyond four doses with 0.8 to 1.6 ml liquid per dose.
Sudafed pediatric nasal drops can be safely administered for children as young as 6 months old. However, for such small children, decongestants should only be used if the congestion is interfering with their sleep pattern and making them particularly irritable. These drops are not recommended for children with a known history of seizures, thyroid problems or heart disease. The dosage for Sudafed pediatric nasal drops is similar to pediacare.
Tylenol plus can be used to treat cold and relieve nasal congestion in toddlers. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in this. Headache, sinus pain, and body aches are other symptoms of congestion that can be treated with this medication. One should avoid prolonged use of this medication as it can lead to kidney damage.
As mentioned above, these medications cannot be entirely safe for children. You can instead rely upon some natural nasal congestion remedies. Inhaling steam containing Vicks VapoRub can relieve nasal and chest congestion. You can also use a humidifier to add humidity to your child’s room, as an aid in breathing. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus to a humidifier can instantly provide relief. Drinking hot fluids also helps in relieving the congestion trouble. Chicken broth, vegetable soups can provide immense relief from cold and congestion. Also give her hot peppermint tea or chamomile tea. All these hot fluids open the nasal passage by unblocking the sinuses.
Thus, OTC decongestant for toddlers need not be your only option of relieving your little one’s congestion. Prolonged and excess use should be avoided under all circumstances. Natural decongestants are quick acting and perfectly safe for children.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.