Parents cautioned against use of cold medicines
02 March 2016, 16:30
Nairobi – A concerned mother whose child had been sick for
three months had a compelling story to share regarding cough syrups.
The frustrated mother said her child was not recovering from
a cold. She had gone to general paediatricians who had given her medication
that was not working.
Upon investigation she later learned that some of the
medication she received was banned in some countries.
“I write this because I am pissed at the system and these
bogus doctors who care more about money than the child they are treating. So to
all mums out there, do your research on drugs. Knowledge is power,” she
Therefore Standard Media decided to consult an expert
seeking advice on the matter.
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Dr. Adil Waris stated that no drug therapy in the field of
science can guarantee cure or shorten the time ones upper respiratory track is
infected, particularly with colds and coughs.
Dr. Waris has been a paediatrician pulmonologist for 11
years and lecturer at the Aga Khan University and The University of Nairobi for
According to Dr. Waris some medication on the market
actually does more harm than good.
A 2008 United States Food and Drug Authority (FDA) report
warned against over-the-counter drugs particularly to children under the age of
Furthermore such drugs only treated the symptom and not the
“These reports of harm occurred when the child received too
much medication such as in cases as accidental ingestion, unintentional
overdose, or after a medication dosing error. In those reports of harm that
lead to a child’s death, most of those children were under two years of age.”
The FDA report said.
In Canada alone the health department recorded that between
January 2005 and May 2008 reported 164 cases where children had adverse
reactions, 12 related to cough and cold products. 105 of those cases were
serious cases, five of which related in deaths in children under two.
In Kenya the Kenya Paediatrician Association and The Kenya
Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases also released
statements where cold medicines were deemed unsafe.
This was also backed by The Allergies Society of Kenya.
Their findings were based on Dr. Waris research.
The Aga Khan University hospital made a policy decision to
remove all cough and cold medications from their pharmacies followed by the
Kenyatta National Hospital.
Dr. Waris said that the tragedy is that some doctors and
pharmacies still stock these medicines despite the line of medical practice is
no longer taught in medical schools nor do they appear in paediatric textbooks.
Instead some doctors opted for substituting the cough mixture
with antihistamines which only dry up the nose but does not clear the chest.
“Some of these drugs that the doctors would prescribe
contain between four and 15 per cent harmful agents with other combining these
harmful agents making our children twice at risk,” Dr. Waris said.
Above this The Pharmacy and Poisons Board continue to supply
pharmacies with these drugs.
Dr. Waris has therefore suggested that parents use honey and
frequent saline drops that help moisten the nose passage and avoid stuffiness.