A trip to the ER…was cough medicine to blame?

Let me start by saying the I am not in the medical field at all and what you read here is solely based off experience, research, and motherly instinct.

You read and hear all the warning signs not to use cough or cold medicines for children 6 and under. You wonder why and think but this one says natural or organic. May be you think, it can’t be that bad because this is exactly what I thought too.

Early one morning, I recognized the signs of sickness in my 5 year old. I could tell by the cough, congestion, and the warmth radiating from her that she was no doubtedly getting sick. So she had to stay home with Dad instead of Top Golf, as much as she protested staying home, she was getting pretty sick and she needed rest.

I really wanted to stay home with her. Unfortunately, I had already committed to some plans I couldn’t get out of. I thought it would only be for a couple hours. She should be ok it’s probably a cold from starting Kindergarten and being around all those new germs.

To my shock when I got home, she was laying in bed and my husband was trying to give her medicine. I asked what he gave her and stated the natural cough syrup and Tylenol or Motrin I believe. She was breathing rapid and laboured, wheezing, and her heart racing. I was terrified. I immediately called the nurse line to get some focus and she could hear my daughter’s strained breathing and said to call 911. Oh my goodness. I feel so bad, I should’ve just called 911 in the first place what was I thinking?! I immediately told my husband to call 911 with his phone while I stayed on the phone with the nurse. I was just overwhelmed with thoughts and concerns. I could barely think straight.

On the way to the ER the medics gave her some albuterol to help her breathe, this is usually for asthma. I think they said it helped to get her heart rate down. While we were in the hospital room waiting for results of flu or otherwise, they continued to try to get her breathing under control and her heart rate down. They tried another dose of albuterol but it wasn’t helping a whole lot. Finally after being there for a few hours, they gave her an IV and it was like magic. In about an hour she was her normal, happy, talkative self.

The x-rays revealed that her lungs were basically crusted with mucus restricting her airway. The fluid was hydrating her chest loosening up the mucus which opened her airway back up.

I don’t know exactly what caused the trip to the ER but dehydration was definitely a factor.

I had read previously that cough medicine sends kids to the ER but they’re not sure why. Research examined the effects of codeine, Dextromethorphan, and Diphenhydramine.

I’ve been trying to do the research to find an answer but my findings are conflicting. I use both the public internet sites and my college library for real medical articles and journals. Still nothing consistent or definitive. It’s very frustrating. Some resulted in some ingredients reducing cough and others stating that the medicine did nothing to reduce the cough and most warnings against cough medicine are because of the codeine. One thing is for sure, almost all the articles and journals recommended to use honey and or lemon for children over the age of 1. It’s safer and has proven to help even a little bit.

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