If your child has a cold do not give them decongestants, medical experts are warning.
The effectiveness of the medicine is “limited” according to an article published in The British Medical Journal and that colds should be left to clear up by themselves, with symptoms normally passing in around a week.
It states adults have two to four colds per year, while children can have as many as eight.
In the article, experts from Australia and Belgium made a series of recommendations based on systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials, Mirror Online reports.
Children carry the highest burden for the common cold, but trials to test the effectiveness of treatments are lacking, the article states.
The authors of the paper said that children under 12 should not be given decongestants.
They wrote: “A small number of trials report contradictory results for decongestants and antihistamines on nasal symptoms and safety in children.
“Some products that contain decongestant may improve nasal symptoms in children, but their safety, especially in young children, is unclear.”
The authors added: “Do not prescribe decongestants to children under 12 , as evidence of their effectiveness is limited and associated risks may exist.”
Meanwhile, saline nasal irrigations or drops can be used safely, “but they may not give the desired relief”.
Vapour rub may relieve congestion but can cause skin rashes, they added.
And other treatments, such as steam, humidified air, echinacea, or probiotics, are either “not effective or have not been studied in children”, they added.
The authors also issued advice for adults, saying they could try nasal decongestants for three to seven days if a blocked or runny nose, or sneezing related to a cold is bothersome.
But they cautioned that there may be unintended effects such as drowsiness, insomnia, or headache.
Patients were also warned not to take decongestants for longer than advised as long term use can actually lead to chronic nasal congestion.