Children’s Cold and Flu Medicine

Cold and Flu

Many parents use over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to alleviate a sick child’s cold or flu symptoms. OTC drugs may help your child feel better. But they would not help the sickness heal more quickly. Often, a cold or the flu will go away on its own in one to two weeks. The selection and administration of an over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medication for your child are given below.

When Should You Avoid Giving Your Child an Over-the-Counter Drug for Cold and Flu?

According to the FDA, parents should not provide over-the-counter (OTC) cold, cough, or flu drugs to children under the age of two without first consulting a doctor. OTC drugs have various minimum age requirements.

Thus, always read the Drug Facts label to determine whether a medicine is appropriate for your child’s age. In general, if your kid has symptoms that last longer than a week, a fever that lasts longer than 2 or 3 days, or significant ear pain, OTC medication should not be taken without first visiting your pediatrician.

How Do You Choose the Best Item For Your Kid?

Several OTC treatments contain active components, some of which might not be required to treat your child’s current symptoms. The ideal option is to select a medication that just contains one active component that addresses your child’s most distressing symptom (s). For more information on the components and uses of the drug, consult the Drug Information label. The following are some of the most prevalent cold and flu symptoms:

Stuffy nose

There are decongestant products available for kids. Children who are at least 4 years old can take pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE). The nasal spray Oxymetazoline (Afrin) is beneficial for kids of at least 6 years old.

The use of nasal formulations should not go further than three days. Saline (saltwater) drops and sprays are safe for people of all ages, including babies and infants. Because they do not contain any medication.


To lower fever, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may be beneficial. The dosage for these drugs is based on weight. Before administering these medicines to children under the age of two, parents should consult a doctor. Any youngster under the age of 18 should not be given aspirin. Because of the drug’s connection to Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.


For children who are at least 4 years old, dextromethorphan (Robitussin, Delsym) and guaifenesin (Mucinex) are acceptable medications. Children who are at least one year old can take honey as a home treatment.

Sore throat

Painkillers for the throat include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Herbal and alternative cold products

It is not advisable to give children medications like zinc (Zicam) or vitamin C (Emergen-C, Airborne). Before giving your child an OTC product if they are under 2 years old, see your doctor.

What is the Appropriate OTC Dosage for Your Child?

For information on the optimum dosage and administration guidelines, refer to the Instructions section of the Drug Facts label. Do not provide more than what is indicated on the label. The majority of OTC liquid medication packages include a measuring tool, like a medicine cup or syringe.

If you do not get appropriate equipment, ask your pharmacist to provide one. Ask your pharmacist to determine the correct amount and mark it on the measurement device if the medication dosage is based on your child’s weight.

Do over-the-counter drugs carry any risks?

Accidental overdose is the main concern with OTC children’s drugs. Call your local poison control center right away if your child unintentionally consumes too much medication. OTC drugs could also have negative effects. If your kid suffers new symptoms or symptoms do not improve in a week, cease the medicine and consult your pediatrician.

Is It Possible To Treat The Flu or a Cold Without Taking Medication?

You can do a lot of things to help your kid more at ease, including the following:

Ensure your kid gets enough sleep.

Urge your kid to drink a lot of water, particularly warm drinks like soup or tea.

To relieve a dry nose or throat, use a cool mist humidifier.

In order to moisturize the nose and thin the mucus, use nasal saline drops or spray.

The Bottom Line

If you’re unsure about which medication to give your child, see your pharmacist. Your pharmacist can suggest a suitable item and give you guidance on how to administer medications to children.