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How Often Can You Take Cold Medicine?

Understanding Cold Medicine Dosage For Kids

Jan James, PA-C Profile Photo

Written by Jan James, PA-C on September 13, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

It’s normal for parents to feel like they have to do something when their children become sick. It’s part of the protective instinct, after all!

However, many parents turn to some extra potent cold medicine when their kids cough or sneeze. They may unintentionally give their children too much cold medicine or give them medicine with unnecessary ingredients. To make matters worse, some medicine brands make understanding kids’ dosage amounts more complex than they have to be.

This guide can help you avoid the risks common with kids’ cold medicine. With these tips, you’ll be able to give your child cold medicine safely to help relieve some of the symptoms as their bodies fight to get better. Let’s dive in!

Does Cold Medicine Really Help Kids?

The story behind kids’ cold medicine is complicated.

In a nutshell, kids are expected to get several colds per year while they’re growing up. Although colds are a normal part of immune system development, plenty of parents feel anxiety or stress when their little ones get sick. So they turn to over-the-counter or other medicines to alleviate symptoms and help their children feel better.

In some ways, cold medicine is very effective. Many top cold medicines for kids work as cough suppressants, decongestants, and antihistamines, which can help with dry coughs, wet coughs, and pain or allergies, respectively.

However, it’s important to note that cold medicine does not actually treat or cure the root cause of the common cold. Only your child’s immune system can effectively work to combat the virus.

Therefore, it’s important to use cold medicine strategically. Cold medicine shouldn’t be overused since some brands can have some negative effects on kids when ingested in high amounts.

When To Give Kids Cold Medicine

The FDA says that it is not wise to give OTC or over-the-counter medicines to children under the age of two. These medicines have powerful ingredients that can cause adverse side effects in kids who are so young. Furthermore, the FDA recommends that all caregivers should carefully read labels on cold medicine before administering any medication to children.

In general, FDA recommendations say that:

  • Cough and cold medicines are fine for kids over the age of four. However, dosages should be followed exactly to prevent adverse effects.
  • Cough and cold medicines are better for kids over the age of six, as their bodies are a little larger, tougher, and more developed than younger kids. You can use more powerful decongestants and cough suppressants with kids at this age.

Additionally, clean, simple remedies without tons of unnecessary ingredients can be a huge help without posing the risk of a bunch of ingredients your kiddo could do without.

For instance, Geneaxa’s Kids’ Cold Crush is a clean homeopathic medicine with a handful of ingredients to treat most common cold symptoms. It uses ingredients like chamomile to treat nasal congestion and Aconitum napellus to treat dry and wet coughs alike.

It’s a high-quality formula made by a forward-thinking company dedicated to crafting clean medicine for families. It’s suitable for all kids over the age of three, although you should consider dosage carefully when administering and follow the directions on the box and bottle.

Furthermore, there are a few types of medicine you should avoid. For example, you should never give your child cough or cold medicine that includes codeine or hydrocodone. Both of these are opioids and are often used in prescription medications for adults. Avoid these ingredients when providing medicine to your child, as they can lead to serious side effects or addiction.

Cold Medicine Dosage Rules for Kids

After deciding to give your child cold or cough medicine, you’ll need to decide on dosage. Here are some good rules of thumb to follow to make sure you don’t accidentally give your child too much cold or cough medicine.

Always Read Instructions

Any legal medicine for kids has to have dosage instructions on the back. Read these carefully, even if you believe you know the answer – it’s tough to know what’s in many commercial medicine bottles these days.

Genexa’s Kids’ Cold Crush has simple directions to make administering easy -- kids between the ages of 3 and 11 only need to chew two tablets at a time. They can take two more tablets every six hours as needed, which makes tracking dosage periods easy. Get well soon!

Take as Directed

No matter what medicine you decide to use, be sure that you only use it as directed. Medicine for kids is usually tested heavily before being sent to market, and dosages are calculated to prevent unnecessary risk to their small, developing bodies.

If your child has really bad cold symptoms, don’t give in to the temptation to give them a little more medicine than what’s recommended. Even giving them another half dose beyond the recommended amount could lead to unnecessary but severe side effects, especially if your child is on the younger or smaller side.

If Your Child Requires More Help, Use Other Cold Remedies

If regular cold medicine doesn’t seem to do the trick, remember that there are plenty of other cold remedies that can also help.

Kids’ immune systems are pretty robust, even if they take longer to fight off colds compared to adults. Consider these alternative strategies to help their immune systems along and alleviate their symptoms:

  • Make sure that your child gets plenty of fluids, especially if their cough or cold is accompanied by diarrhea or other digestive problems. It’s easy to become dehydrated when you’re sick, and kids don’t know enough to drink more to replace lost fluids unless prodded. Give them fluids like water and juice regularly, and consider broth if they can’t keep whole foods down.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier in their bedroom to soothe your child’s nasal passages and alleviate some dry coughing symptoms.
  • If your child has trouble with congestion, consider using some nasal saline spray. When sprayed into your child's nostrils saltwater can alleviate decongestion to some extent
  • If your child has a sore throat, have them gargle with warm salt water to help soothe the irritation.

Of course, it should go without saying that your child should stay home from school and take it easy. Given time and nutrition, your child’s immune system should bounce back and take care of any common cold or cough within a couple of days. This should occur with or without cold medicine, although cold medicine can help to take care of some of the more severe symptoms and make your child more comfortable as they naturally get better.


All in all, cold medicine can be a great way to alleviate cold and cough symptoms, at least when used correctly and in the right dosage amounts. As parents, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your child doesn’t take too much cold medicine and that they’re as comfortable as possible while you both wait for the virus to be defeated.

Fortunately, you can rely on clean medicine from companies like Genexa to handle the majority of severe cough and cold symptoms.

Don’t hesitate to check out the rest of their kids’ clean medicine as well – they have a selection of real remedies made with simple but effective ingredients for all kinds of issues, including congestion, sore throats, and more.

We hope you feel better soon!