Vicks VapoRub Dangerous for Little Kids

Children’s cold medicine has drawn heavy fire lately. Health officials are concerned over the possible health risks. In fact, last month, Canadian health officials urged parents not to give kids over-the-counter cold remedies, even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered banning children’s cold medicine

And yesterday, researchers in Chest revealed Vicks VapoRub, a popular cold remedy, triggers respiratory distress in children younger than 2, when incorrectly applied under the nose, causing airways to swell and fill with mucus. This reaction is normal in adults, but infants and toddlers’ have narrower airways, putting them at risk. But researchers are quick to point out. Vicks clearly states their product should never go under the nose of children under the age of 2. And while not tested, generics could pose the same danger; Reuters reports.

Oddly enough, many of these cold remedies may not even work in little kids, placebo works just as well.

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Kelly O'Connor - January 14, 2009 12:11 PM

First, thanks for the information!
It is interesting to me that there seems a lack of responsibility on the part of consumers pervading over the counter medications. Any number of consumers mis-using or not reading the labeling on OTCs leads to the abolishment of long used "supportive" treatments. These OTCs are what they are, symptom treatments and not intended to "cure" anything. There is the other "disconnect". That OTCs are "curing" or even "treating" the true infection, inflammation, or otherwise known as "disease", "disorder", etc.

So who is responsible or response-able to teach or give guidance to consumers on OTC products? I think with the extent of advertising that is on TV these days for prescription medications, the art of diplomacy in healthcare is on our doorstep. Time to ask or even demand of the Pharmaceutical Companies to do a bit more spending of the advertising dollar and warn parents to contact the Pediatrician or Family Practice Doctor before giving ANYTHING to a child under 2 years old...or any other appropriate age.

When it comes to Vicks, it is a petroleum based product that is akin to poultices and other forms of dispersing a medication topically into the body from before the big Pharma came into play. The historical base for the symptomatic treatment it provides is the mother-grandmother treatment of using oils and herbs via steamed water, soaked rags, or a base of paste to allow the skin not to be irritated but allow for breathing in as the herb or oil literally "off-gases".

I have seen so often, in our vary hurried world, the need for less time spent (for the most part...not all...staying on point for solutions here!) by both medical practictioners AND parents. We can not hurry the immune response of the body...we can only support it and IT is not aware of "our" busy lives!

Infants are infants until there lungs, airways, heart, brain, and blood vessels are more fully developed OUTSIDE the womb. Children do not stop initial brain development until age 21 (see the NIH and NIDA websites on this). So, this being said, what is the solution?
Well, I would caution parents to take a deep breath without having a cold!
Make choices and educate themselves on the fragility of these growing bodies that are called the next generation, and think in technical terms versus going into overwhelm.
And above all else, read the box!

Our FDA and that of other governments is not responsible for the lack of reading of labels by the public. The OTC medication is something that is a convenience...that is correct, a convenience...otherwise, if one is so endowed, get the willing Grandmother to the house and have her bring the old-time remedies out...

All of this is to say that there is CHOICE in our market driven society. CHOICE on what is available to make our most tender and fragile resource, our children, comfortable during times of acute and chronic illness. I would add, not to send this down a rabbit hole, that it is exactly the profitability of OTCs and the power of Pharma companies in the U.S. that has kept the government from its solution: take the OTCs away from the public and require a doctor's prescription for all of it. That day may well come if the RESPONSE-ABILITY or ability to respond from Pharma and parents via simple paying attention to details of OTC use are not greatly adhered to by the Public.

Slowing down, considering the options, or picking up the phone and calling healthcare provider, the company hotline on the OTC box (is this safe for my....age child? or appropriate?) or even an Elder that you can trust and respect. Ask the questions.
Vicks is not responsible for the mis-use of OTC symptomatic relief products.
The labeling is there.
And were it is not...please please ask a Pediatrician or Family Practitioner BEFORE giving anything to a child of ANY age, especially at or under 2 years old. Consider yourself still pregnant with that child until then!

Each individual is responsible.

Much Thanks

pworkman - January 14, 2009 12:31 PM

I think from what I read of the study, that it did not "[reveal] Vicks VapoRub, a popular cold remedy, triggers respiratory distress in children younger than 2, when incorrectly applied under the nose". I think that the study speculated it would cause respiratory distress in children, because of the size of their airways, based on a study done on rats.

But I still agree that it should only be used as directed. I am also starting to develop an attitude about instructions to "consult your doctor" or "use only as your doctor suggests", as I am finding that most doctors are fine with prescribing medications in spite of warning labels and contraindications, with little concern as to the possible consequences.

mjohns - January 16, 2009 10:40 AM

OK this is a pet peeve of mine: Why not print the directions in large enough print to read?! I take the time to read the label, but I can understand a tired parent, stumbling around in the night trying to read this impossible label with tiny print might make an error. The worst problem is the enclosed dosage cup. I read awhile back that parents were routinely overdosing medication to the kids. The enclosed cup has unmarked lines and words on it. Why doesn't the appropriate agency demand marked (like black ink) dosages on the cup?

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