Dr. Val, one of my favorite bloggers, is providing some info in support of cold medicine for infants! Oh no! I hate the idea.
This was in response to a NY Times article describing potential upcoming FDA warnings.
Most parents feel they need to give an infant something because that's what people do. If you're sick, you take medicine.
The best principle when it comes to self-limited illnesses is take nothing. In the balance between risk and benefit, there is little value to take a medicine which may make you feel better for a short period. As low as the risk may be, it is not a zero-risk proposition. There have been overdoses, miscalculations, reactions, allergies and just plain side effects. Decongestants in children with undetected heart conditions can be fatal. There are better ways to find out there was a problem.
Cold medicines do not make a cold go away any faster, but patients seem to use them with religious regularity. There are patients with chronic illnesses who can't remember to take their own medicine regularly but feed their kids some God-awful irrational cocktail of pharmaceutical products every 4 hours.
If these medicines reduce the severity of symptoms in the short run, there is little or no supporting evidence in the literature. I would hypothesize that symptoms last longer as a consequence of secretions drying out and being hard to clear. But there's no evidence either way. So why take an action which is unproven, probably unnecessary and possibly hurtful?
Remember, I work with low-income individuals. The dollar impact of wasting money on a cold remedy is significant in itself.
What's worse, disagreeing with Val, or agreeing with the NY Times?