Cough Medicine Alternatives

Cough Medicine Alternatives

Since the recall of over the counter cough medicines I’ve been asked repeatedly what I personally recommend.

The following is an excerpt from my book, Raising Baby Green. It was written before the recall, but certainly applies. — You can clean out the medicine cabinet of decongestants and antihistamines for your baby.

There is no evidence that they reduce congestion, runny nose, or sneezing in young children. But they can cause side effects that affect both the health of the baby and the environment.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that such cough and cold medications are no more effective than a placebo for reducing acute cough and other symptoms in children younger than two years, and the American College of Chest Physicians has advised health care professionals against using cough suppressants and other over-the-counter cough medications for young children because of actual deaths documented with their use.

These deaths were related to dosages high above the recommended amount, but nevertheless, these products present a risk with little if any benefit.

Instead, I recommend… Saline nose drops (a simple saltwater solution) will loosen mucus so it is easily removed with a bulb syringe. They also have a gentle decongestant and antiviral effect.

Gravity too plays a sound role in treating congestion. You’ve probably felt the way sinus congestion eases when you sit up after lying down for a while. Your baby will gain the same benefit if you keep her head a bit higher than her heart.

Thick mucus can be treated with a vaporizer or humidifier. The mucus will become thinner as it pulls in the moisture from the air, allowing it to discharge more easily. (Keep in mind, though, that if the air stays too moist too long, it can encourage mold growth.)

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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