The following was adapted from the Canadian Paediatric Society’s statement on “Treating cough and cold: Guidance for caregivers of children and youth”. Please see the full statement for the full recommendations from the Canadian Paediatric Society.
The common cold is one of the most common pediatric presentations in general practice. Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications (CCMs) are widely used to alleviate symptoms, however their efficacy and safety has been questioned. The following guidelines summarize the evidence for use of CCMs and reviews common alternatives for treating cough and cold.
Cough and Cold Medications (CCMs)
CCMs are usually a combination of several medications including antitussives, expectorants, antihistamines, decongestants and antipyretics. In 2008, Health Canada advised against the use of all CCM formulations in children less than six years of age and advised to use caution in children older than six years.
Lack of benefit - Meta-analysis has found no evidence for or against the use of CCMs in adults or children when assessing cough frequency or severity, sputum production, or physician assessment of illness.
Potential harm - CCMs have been shown to be responsible for 6% of total emergency department visits related to medication use in children less than 12 years of age; they have also been associated with pediatric deaths. Risk factors for fatalaties associated with CCMs in children include:
Other Investigated Treatments
The following common therapies have been investigated by systematic reviews and meta-analysis for symptom relief for the common cold.
Therapies with demonstrated benefit and rare adverse events:
Therapy with possible benefit but rare adverse events:
Therapy with unlikely benefit:
Last updated by PedsCases: January 16, 2015