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Cold Ointments with Menthol Pose Risk to Children

Monday, March 09, 2009 by: Elizabeth Walling
Tags: Menthol, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Many of us grew up with vapor rubs slathered on our chests anytime we had a cough or cold, often much to our protest to the smell that seemed to singe our nostrils. This old-fashioned cold treatment is still common today, and you can even find it listed under popular natural remedy compilations. These potent ointments usually contain ingredients like camphor and menthol, and are thought to help ease coughing and breathing during colds. Unfortunately, new research is pointing the finger at these menthol rubs in cases of dangerous respiratory complications in children.

Dr. Bruce Rubin of the department of pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina is the lead author of a study published in the journal CHEST that looks at the effect of menthol rubs on the respiratory system. Dr. Rubin warns of the possibility of a drastic increase of nasal inflammation and difficulty breathing in young children. He strongly recommends that no one - adult or child - should place these ointments in or under their nose due to possible respiratory risks. Evidence shows that a small portion of children seem to react severely to menthol rubs placed under the nose. The best way to avoid this outcome is to avoid using these products altogether. The risk may also be dodged by resisting the temptation to put the ointment directly in or under a child's nose.

This information comes at a time when the FDA has recently pointed out that over-the-counter cold and cough medications show no evidence of being effective in children and are linked with many troubling side effects such as seizures and even death. Health officials are taking a hard look at whether or not these drugs should be recommended at all for children under the age of six.

These types of cold rubs are not completely ineffective in relieving cold symptoms. The menthol basically provides a cooling sensation in the nasal passages. This may make breathing feel easier, but it isn't actually improving air flow at all. Used properly, menthol ointments can alleviate the feeling of congestion as you recover from a cold, but they do not technically treat the cold or shorten the overall duration of illness.

Now more than ever it is time to turn to old-fashioned natural remedies like taking in plenty of liquids and getting extra rest during periods of illness. A warm cup of lemon tea with honey or a bowl of chicken soup can provide the same kind of relief that cold ointments provide, but without the chance of a negative reaction. It seems that the days of rubbing on the menthol may be numbered, at least in the case of children's medicine.





About the author

Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:

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