Happy New Year, Mommy. Pass the tissues.

By: Alison Dunn Dec 28, 2010
Happy New Year, Mommy. Pass the tissues.

Today is December 28, and I fully expect that by tomorrow, one of my kids will be sick.

Yes, in my house, the post-Christmas week always seems to bring colds. It’s like their little bodies are in such a state of excitement before Christmas, they fight off those cold viruses with determination. But the minute the festivities are over and they relax, boom. The noses start dripping like taps.

If you’ve ever seen a little kid with a cold, you know it’s not fun. Ever tried getting a five-year-old to blow his nose properly? Yeah, it gets messy. And if one starts coughing? Say goodbye to sleeping for a few days – you’ll be up all night listening to him or her hack away.

That’s why it’s so tempting to give your child a cold medication or cough suppressant. When your child has been up all night with a cough or wiping his snotty nose on your sleeve (hey, it happens), it’s hard not to want to make that go away.

But in 2008, Health Canada sent out a warning not to use cough or cold medications on children under the age of six. Health Canada found that there wasn’t much evidence these products helped alleviate the symptoms in children, but rather put the children at much higher risk for misuse, overdose and even rare side effects. In effect, it was like we were putting our children at risk for absolutely no reward.

This was shocking news for parents who, like me, were giving their four and five year olds things like cough suppressants, trying to help them feel better. And, like many parents, I felt awful for giving my children cough medicine and worried I was doing them harm.

That’s why, this week on Health Local, we take a look at kids and cold medications in “Wee flu fighters.” We sent contributor Nancy Ripton, a mom of two little boys, to find out just what guidelines exist around children’s cold and flu medications.

I threw all the children’s medications out when the Health Canada report came out. It was Children’s Tylenol (or Advil) for my kids when they were sick and nothing else. Like Health Canada mentioned, the alleviation of the cold symptoms simply wasn’t good enough to put their health at risk.

Now that my oldest son is seven, I suppose I can loosen up on my restrictions. The good news? He hasn’t had a cold in almost a year, so it hasn’t been an issue. I haven’t even questioned whether or not to give him any cold medication.

But then again, it IS Dec. 28 today. In 24 hours, I could be changing my tune entirely as soon as I hear that hacking cough start up tomorrow morning. Maybe I’d better run to the pharmacy tonight, just in case!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.