"The essential thing," he says, "is that for all medicines on sale free, cough and cold, there is no evidence of effectiveness for all cold symptoms, especially in children under 6 years. "

Studies have not shown that cough suppressants help children cough less, or that antihistamines and decongestants help them sleep better. Medications that can help a child with a runny nose who has seasonal allergies will not help the same child when it comes to a cold virus that causes a runny nose; the underlying mechanisms are different.

Even for older children and teens, said Dr. Paul, the effectiveness of most of the ingredients contained in the cold and cough medicines is not convincing, and the danger still exists. effects, especially when the drugs are taken at too high doses, which can happen because there are many different preparations, with as many different drug combinations.

Dr. Yin is working on a project funded by the F.D.A. improve labeling and dosing instructions for cough and cold medicines in children; so far, she said, research has shown that parents of the study population are confused about the expected age range of drugs, active ingredients and the dosage. Many of these preparations contain several different drugs, including a cough suppressant, a decongestant, an antihistamine, and a pain and fever medication.

"In my own practice, I reassure them, I check the child, I do it of course, I covered the ears, lungs and throat," said Dr. van Driel. "I reassure the parent, it's a cold, a cold is a disease that resolves itself, we have an immune system capable of taking care of it, it will take about a week. People need to trust their bodies, she said, instead of relying on drugs. "I would tell them there is not much that helps. Do not give him anything you can give to your big child or take it yourself, "said Dr. van Driel.

And of course, we always tell parents what to watch for, symptoms that may suggest something else. that a cold happens. Any difficulty breathing in a child should be taken seriously, so that a baby who is breathing too fast or a child who works harder than normal should be examined. High fevers are a concern, as are signs of the flu, such as tremors, chills and body aches; Influenza in children can be treated with antiviral drugs – and prevented with flu shots.