SIKESTON -- Parents of infants or toddlers who've got a case of the sniffles won't find over-the-counter cough and cold medicines at their local drug store anymore.
Instead they'll need to resort to cool-mist humidifiers and bulb suction syringes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory on Jan. 17 for parents and caregivers recommending over-the-counter cough and cold products not be used to treat infants and children less than 2 years of age.
This also meant pharmacies had to pull the medicines from their store shelves.
"It hasn't affected us too much because we don't carry a large front-end of those products," said Annie Huffman, a pharmacist at Randy's Rx in Sikeston. Only a couple of people have asked about the products that are no longer available over the counter, Huffman said.
"Placing more restrictions on them I can understand, but removing all of them from the market -- I'm not so sure it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction," said pharmacist Richard Logan, owner of L&S Pharmacy in Charleston, about the FDA's recommendation.
Now about the only medicine pharmacies can sell for infants and toddlers are the single unit medicines such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen, Logan said.
"In all honesty, nobody knew if they (the medicines removed) worked, and we just assumed they did because they worked for adults, and we just dosed them down for children," Logan said.
Dr. Andrew Boldrey, a pediatrician at Ferguson Medical Group in Sikeston, said quite a number of parents of infants and toddlers have been asking about the new recommendations.
"It's really changed what our recommendations are when parents call in wanting advice for (their sick) kids," Boldrey said. "When kids are sick and their parents call in, often times we recommended one of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines."
Parents' reactions haven't been being upset they can't use the medicines anymore; a lot are looking for advice, Boldrey said.
"They're saying, 'OK. I can't use cough and cold medicines. What do I do?'" Boldrey said.
Some recent studies have shown that conservative therapy at home is quite effective if not better than cold and cough medicines, and plus there are no side effects, Boldrey said.
For example, run a cool-mist humidifier at night or use a bulb suction with saline drops in the nose, Boldrey suggested.
"Let the drops sit a minute and try to suck out the mucus," Boldrey said.
Also let babies breathe steamy shower air if they're having a coughing fit, he suggested.
If conservative therapy isn't working, contact your child's pediatrician, Boldrey said.
"The reason for the FDA's recommendation is because colds are a self-
limited disease, meaning they will get better no matter what, despite what treatment and medicines are given," Boldrey said.
Also there are side effects to some of these medicines. These include death, convulsions, rapid heart rates and decreased levels of consciousness.
"It seems that the side effects are very rare," Boldrey said, adding there were 3.8 billion doses of cough and cold medicines given in last year with about only 1,500 emergency visits.
"My suspicion is most of the problems were from underlying illness such as heart or lung diseases that were unrecognized, misdosing medicines or giving several medicines that contain the same ingredient and they weren't aware of it," Boldrey said about the rare side effects.
Right now there is no mandate to stop the prescription of antihistamines and cold and cough medicines, Boldrey said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has backed a proposal to essentially ban over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children 6 years and under, and the data suggests that possibly kids under the age of 12 have shown no benefit from these medicines, Boldrey said.
In the meantime, parents shouldn't worry.
"Talk to your pharmacist," Logan said. "We can manage a cough or cold with what's available."
Boldrey estimated half of the parent population are aware of the new recommendations.
He said: "I think parents need to realize that with the upper respiratory virus, the kids will get over their symptoms and don't necessarily need a medicine every time they get a runny nose or cough."