Is codeine OK?

No. The Food and Drug Administration has issued its strongest warning against the use of codeine to treat a cough or pain and the narcotic tramadol (Ultram) to treat pain in children younger than 12 years old. This is due to the potential for serious side effects, such as slowed or difficult breathing.

How can I help my child feel better?

To help your child cope with a cough or cold:

  • Offer fluids. Liquids such as water, juice and broth might help thin secretions. Warm liquids, such as tea or chicken soup, might have a soothing effect, increase the flow of nasal mucus and loosen respiratory secretions.
  • Run a cool-mist humidifier. This can help shrink nasal passages and loosen nasal secretions.
  • Use a suction bulb. Use this device on a baby or young child to draw mucus out of the nose.
  • Use nasal saline. Over-the-counter saline can keep nasal passage moist. In younger children, use saline nasal drops. For older children, use a saline nasal spray or saline nasal irrigation.
  • Offer cold or frozen drinks or foods. Ice cream, frozen fruit pops, ice or cold beverages might feel good on a sore throat.
  • Encourage salt water gargling. For children age 6 years and older, gargling salt water might soothe throat pain.
  • Offer hard candy. For children age 5 years and older, sucking on a piece of hard candy might soothe throat pain. Hard candy is probably as effective as medicated lozenges and less likely to have harmful effects. However, hard candy is a choking hazard and shouldn't be given to younger children.

What's the best way to prevent the common cold?

To help your child stay healthy:

  • Keep it clean. Teach your child to wash his or her hands thoroughly and often. When soap and water aren't available, provide an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hand wipes. Keep toys and common household surfaces clean, too.
  • Cover up. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue — and then toss it. If he or she can't reach a tissue in time, show your child how to cough or sneeze into the crook of the arm.
  • Steer clear of colds. When possible, help or encourage your child to avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.
Nov. 11, 2017 See more In-depth