Queensland Health is warning parents common cough and cold treatments like rubs and inhalants do not work and can make children sick if they swallow them.
Hugh Miller, director of Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital pharmacy department, where the Queensland Poisons Information Centre is based, told Perth Now during winter and the flu season, the centre received an increased numbers of calls related to chest rubs and vaporiser fluids.
“In cooler weather, some parents use vaporisers, thinking they help with colds and to clear airways,” he said.
“But chest rubs and vaporiser fluids have no proven benefits and can pose a poisoning risk.
“Children sometimes get hold of these products and have a lick or ingest some of the fluid, which may be poisonous if ingested.”
The Queensland Health website says the rubs and inhalants just make people feel like they are working because camphor, menthol or eucalyptus oil make your nasal passages more sensitive to cold air.
“The Queensland Poisons Information Centre does not encourage the use of chest rubs, vaporiser or inhalant fluids to treat coughs and colds, or for any other purpose.
Chest rubs and vaporiser fluids do not have any proven benefit. They can make you feel as though your airways are clearing but this is because camphor, menthol or eucalyptus oil make your nasal passages more sensitive to cold air. Chest rubs and vaporiser fluids do not have a decongestant effect.
The camphor and eucalyptus oil in chest rubs and vaporiser fluids are poisonous and can make children very sick if they swallow them. Each year Poisons Information Centres send many children to hospital after they have swallowed chest rub or vaporiser fluid.
If you think your child has swallowed a chest rub or vaporiser fluid contact the Poisons Information Centre immediately.”
Dangers of vaporiser use
Mr Miller said vaporisers should be out of children’s reach when in use.
Last month researchers called on the public watch dog to ensure parents are reminded of the dangers using a Vaporiser especially as the cooler weather approaches.
A large number of children, mainly toddlers, present to the children’s hospital with burns from a steam vaporiser with up to 80% presenting with burns to their hands. Especially boys. 50% needed surgery.
FGB Natural Products the distributors of Euky Bear and Vicks Warm Steam Vaporisers, two of the top-selling vaporiser brands in Australia issued a statement saying – “Ultimately it is up to the parents to decide based on their circumstances and the age of their children, but we urge parents, as with any household device like kettles or stoves, to always supervise children around vaporisers.”
The dreaded green snot monster
Research has found that doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics to patients with green or yellow nasal discharge.
But the same study showed they were often doing so unnecessarily.
Dr Michael Tam, from the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said colourful snot was not a good reason to go rushing to the family doctor.
“The presence of green snot … does not indicate that you need antibiotics,” Dr Tam said. “Green nasal discharge is most commonly due to a viral infection of the nasal mucosa — basically, the common cold.”
Antibiotics will not help treat a viral illness. So if your snot turns green as the result of a common cold (which is caused by a virus) there’s no point taking them, Dr Tam told ABC News.
He said green or yellow nasal discharge could be caused by a bacterial infection, but even then, unless the infection is severe, you are better off without antibiotics.
Using antibiotics when you don’t need them can contribute to antibiotic resistance in the microorganisms in your own body and within the broader community.
Treating a child’s cold/flu
According to Kids Health the best way to treat a child’s cold/flu is to…
- Offer plenty of fluids
- Encourage lots of rest
- Give paracetamol and ibuprofen as required for any aches and pains
- Dress children appropriately so you can add and remove layers during bouts of chills or fever.
Always seek medical advice if concerned.
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