Tips and natural remedies for colds and fever when your child is sick
What is happening
Circulating cases of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 in children have led to high demand for children’s cold and flu medicines, leading to shortages or purchasing limits at some pharmacies.
why is it important
Fever, cough and congestion are symptoms of all three viruses and parents may be looking for ways to make their child more comfortable during their illness.
What this means for you
Besides painkillers, there are other ways to relieve a child’s symptoms. Here’s what the experts say.
Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza joined COVID-19 and created a perfect virus storm this season. Children, in particular, have been hard hit by a RSV season, and some parents report that their household has been sick for weeks.
In response, CVS Health and Walgreens have announced limits on the amount of children’s drugs people can buy over-the-counter, as demand for the drugs soars amid a winter full of respiratory illnesses.
CVS has a two-item limit on children’s pain relief products. This applies to all pharmacies and online, a spokesperson confirmed.
Walgreens has no in-store purchase limit, but has an online limit of six per transaction “to prevent excessive buying behavior,” the company said.
Walmart, another drugstore giant, has seen “higher demand for over-the-counter pediatric painkillers this year” but hasn’t changed its policies for buying online or in-store, a spokesperson said. from Walmart to CNET.
Here’s what we know about children’s medicine shortages at some stores, including the products affected and what parents can use instead.
What is a painkiller?
Pain relievers, such as cold and flu medicines limited in some pharmacies, can be used to soothe symptoms of respiratory viruses in children, including fever and cough. It often contains children’s doses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which reduce fever. Some common brand names for these medications include Children’s Motrin (which contains ibuprofen) and Children’s Tylenol (made with acetaminophen).
Why purchase limits?
The high demand for cold and flu medicines caused by high rates of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 – all of which have overlapping symptoms – is likely a major factor leading to shortages in some stores or locations. CNN reported that sales of pediatric pain relievers are up 65% this year compared to last year, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
Along with over-the-counter drugs, antivirals that require a prescription (such as Tamiflu) have also been in record demand. According to a 2022 report from SingleCare, a prescription services company, antiviral drug fills in the company increased by 92% compared to 2021. There was a 773% increase at SingleCare in prescription fills for oseltamivir phosphate (generic Tamiflu), which reflects a tougher-hit flu season this year in the United States, compared to last year, when flu numbers were unusually low.
Alternatives to Common Painkillers
Since many common pain relievers include ibuprofen or acetaminophen, it’s important to consult your pediatrician about what’s safe for your child, taking into account their age and weight. Generally speaking, children younger than 6 months should not take ibuprofen and children younger than 3 months should not take acetaminophen, according to dosage information from the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you can’t find your favorite brand, search for the store’s generic equivalent.
And if you’re looking to soothe your child but everything seems to be out of stock, there are also natural remedies that can soothe cold or flu symptoms. Dr. Steven Abelowitz, medical director of the pediatric medical group Coastal Kids, said via email that there are many alternatives to treating fever in children.
“Lukewarm baths, light clothing, keeping your child well hydrated, and placing a fan nearby all help bring down a child’s fever when over-the-counter options aren’t available,” Abelowitz said.
Other methods to reduce common respiratory symptoms include applying a minty rub on a child’s neck and chest, which is safe for children 2 years and older, according to the AAP, helping them breathe more comfortably while they sleep. Some people swear by honey to soothe a sore throat or cough, and it is safe to give to children over one year of age. It is not safe for young babies as their digestive system is not yet mature enough to eliminate bacteria. Saline nose drops and humidifiers are other ways that could relieve a child’s stuffy nose and congestion, according to the AAP.
Abelowitz said children can sometimes get headaches from coughing too much.
“If your child has a headache, make sure they’re well hydrated and take appropriate steps to soothe their throat,” which may include popsicles or honey if they’re old enough.
When to worry about fever
Fever is a sign that our body is fighting an illness, such as a respiratory virus. In children, fevers can be common and in most cases are not too serious and resolve as the child fights off the illness.
“A mild fever is defined by most experienced clinicians as between 100 and 102 degrees F, and not all low temperatures need to be treated, especially if the child does not look very unwell. comfortable or sick,” Abelowitz said. “Most fevers don’t cause discomfort until they rise above 102/103 degrees F.”
You should call your pediatrician, however, if your child is less than 3 months old and has any degree of fever 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And no matter how old your child isyou should call their doctor immediately if they have a temperature above 104 degrees.
You should also seek help if they have more severe symptoms or if there is another factor at play, according to the AAP, including the following:
- Being exceptionally sleepy or super fussy
- Having a stiff neck, breathing problems, unexplained rash, severe headache, severe ear or throat pain, and repeated vomiting or diarrhea
- Have a history of heart problems or a condition that suppresses the immune system, including sickle cell disease and cancer
- You should also call if they have a fever after being in a very hot place, such as an overheated car.
Dangerous alternatives to painkillers for children
Aspirin is not a safe substitute for children if your cold or flu medicine is out of stock. According to the AAP, it can lead to complications, including intestinal bleeding and diseases that affect the liver and brain.
You should never rub rubbing alcohol on your child’s head, the association says, because it can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, which can be dangerous.
Also, avoid “sponging” your child with cold water to relieve their fever, according to the AAP. While this may seem like an intuitive way to cool them down, it can make them shiver and even raise their temperature.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
Leave a Reply