Today we have a Guest Post here from ConsumerSafety.org regarding illness and children. I hope you enjoy!
As any parent of school-age children will know, “back to school” means “back to the doctor.” For all the outdoor activities kids do in the summer, there’s rarely a sniffle to be heard. Why is this? The common misconception is that being cold, makes you more susceptible to catching one—let’s dispel that myth first.
The cold virus is just as prevalent in warm weather, but people aren’t shut indoors in close proximity. Windows are open, and we’re out walking around, so those germs are less concentrated. Kids also get dirty, and parents hound them to wash their hands more when you can see the dirt, than when you can’t. Flu viruses are also much more stable in cold weather, and they spread more quickly in lower humidity—and not at all when humidity levels reach 80%.
There are over 200 different strains of “cold” viruses, and according to WebMD, kindergartners can have as many as 12 colds each year. So how should parents treat them, and what should parents do when their baby brother catches the cold?
A few recent articles at ConsumerSafety.org offer some sound advice for treating babies coughs and colds safely. As much as it would be nice to be able to offer our babies the same relief we enjoy from those medications, parents should stay away from the cough and cold aisle when the baby’s sick. The FDA has put out multiple warnings about how cough and cold medicines are not safe for infants. Here are some common mistakes parents make:
- Relying on old information or habits without reading updated safety labels
- Decreasing weight-based dosage amounts for babies assuming it is safe
While OTC medicines carry clear warning labels stating that they shouldn’t be used in children under 4 years of age, the FDA is still receiving reports of dangerous and life-threatening side effects in infants because some parents don’t read the labels, or assume that it’ll be okay if they halve the big-kid dose and only give their infant a little bit.
Another common problem is the overuse of antibiotics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made a significant change to the content of the safety warning on fluoroquinolone antibiotics in an attempt to restrict their use to more serious infections. Up to 42% of fluoroquinolone prescriptions between 1995 and 2002 were written for “unapproved diagnoses” like ear infections, sinus infections, and acute bronchitis, all of which are often caused by viruses and not bacteria.
A broad-spectrum drug is often used when treating the infection quickly is important—such as a hospitalized patient with a severe infection. But when the rush is a physician trying to get a patient out the door, we’re taking shortcuts that can lead to much more serious problems down the road when even these stronger antibiotics stop being effective.