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"Common types of antipyretics such as aspirin and paracetamol help to reduce fever and relieve headaches.," say doctors from KK Women's and Children's Hospital​ (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 18 years old for colds or the flu. This is because aspirin has been associated with causing Reye's Syndrome in children with viral infection. This condition, through rare, affects the brain, liver and kidneys.

When to consult your doctor

Complications such as swelling or infection of the middle ear and pneumonia may arise if the cough or cold is persistent and occurs frequently. Consult your doctor if your child exhibits the following signs or symptoms :

  1. He tugs at his ear
  2. He develops a rash
  3. He complains of earache or deafness
  4. He has thick greenish-yellow nasal mucus
  5. He has a persistent cough for one week despite medication
  6. He has a cough which becomes worse in intensity and frequency
  7. He has bloody sputum or stool
  8. He develops a fever (38.3ºC and above)
  9. His fever persists for 2 days or subsides and returns a few days later

Seek medical advice immediately if your child has difficulty in breathing or breathes rapidly, suffers seizures, is irritable, lethargic or complains of a stiff neck.

All these would indicate that your child is suffering from the more severe form of the illness or is suffering from an infection.

An important final word about OTC drugs

Use OTC drugs conservatively. Many cough and cold medications have exaggerated and sometimes paradoxical effects on children. Most coughs and colds clear up without any treatment. Many non-drug approaches such as adequate fluid intake, a well-balanced diet and keeping away from air-conditioned areas provide equal or better relief from the symptoms compared to drugs.

  • Always consult your doctor or the pharmacist when in doubt before administering any OTC drugs.

See previous page for ​​over-the-counter drugs for nasal congestion and cough​.​

Ref: U11​