This is a guest post by Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker.
Her parents thought they were doing everything right, recounts an ABC news report. They followed their doctor’s suggestions to alternate doses of Motrin and Tylenol to help alleviate Brianna’s fever and cough.
But what the Mayas didn’t know was that the children’s medications they were giving their daughter would leave her with rare but life-threatening side effects.
And she would never be the same.
What Are we Giving our Children?
Image by tinpalace
Reading this article made my heart not only ache for Brianna and her family—but also for parents around the world who don’t blink an eye at giving their little ones over-the-counter children’s medications.
I am have been one of those parents.
The day before my firstborn received her first scheduled childhood vaccinations (which we do on a delayed schedule), many well-meaning friends and relatives suggested: “Just go ahead and give her Tylenol even before the shots. It will make her feel better.”
Even though I was just beginning my natural living journey, I still didn’t feel right about giving my newborn any medication “just in case.”
Couldn’t we at least wait to give her medications until she exhibited symptoms of needing them?
You see, my journey to natural living and eating real food has propelled me to re-think everything my family ingests. I no longer want to go with the norm.
Instead, I want to arm myself with the truth and seek out God’s best for my family.
I want to know exactly what I’m giving my children. So, I set out to investigate the common ingredients in three children’s over-the-counter medications.
The list of ingredients is lengthy, but here are some top ones and reasons to avoid them:
Children’s Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Active Ingredient: acetaminophen
What it does: fever reducer and pain reliever
Why you should avoid it: Among other possible side effects, acetaminophen can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing. Even more alarming, it can lead to acute liver failure. (Think about how much Tylenol most Americans take in the course of a lifetime!)
Other alarming ingredients: parabens, which potentially cause cancer; blue #1, which aggravates asthma; red #40, which can lead to hyperactivity and lower IQ; high fructose corn syrup, which may lead to a plethora of diseases, including insulin resistance, heart disease and cancer; sodium benzoate, which potentially contributes to hyperactivity when paired with food dyes (like blue #1 and red #40).
Children’s Ibuprofen (Motrin)
Active Ingredient: ibuprofen
What is does: fever reducer and pain reliever
Why you should avoid it: This one was eye opening for me. Those who take ibuprofen may have an increased chance for sudden heart attack or stroke—not to mention that this drug can cause ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach or intestines.
Other alarming ingredients: Along with red #40 and blue #1, Motrin contains acesulfame potassium, an artificial sweetener which critics have suggested (but have not proven) is potentially cancer-causing.
Image by LittleMan
Active Ingredients: Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride
What it does: relieves allergy symptoms, such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing
Why you should avoid it: There’s a long list on this one: Some of the most alarming? It can lead to increased heart rate, hallucinations, delirium, motor impairment, short-term memory loss and irregular breathing.
Other alarming ingredients: Saccharin sodium, which is an artificial sweetener once thought to cause cancer, but the FDA has now deemed it safe for consumption and sorbitol, which can cause extreme abdominal pain for those with irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal issues.
Finding out there are potentially harmful ingredients in conventional children’s medications can be frustrating. Thankfully, there are some great alternatives to treating childhood (and adult) illnesses, like:
- using more “natural” medicines
- cold washcloths on head or site of wounds
- cool baths
- making your own natural remedies
- consuming local, raw honey
- removing your child from allergens
- naturally curing warts at home
Is There Ever a Place for these Medications?
I am not one to discount conventional medications altogether. Instead, I feel that my job as a parent is to be informed, try natural (God’s medicine!) first and rely on other medications (over-the-counter or prescribed) as a last resort—and only after I’ve exhausted all other options.
But at least I know what I’m giving my children.
I feel bad for those who don’t.
Cases like Brianna Maya’s might be few and far between, but they still exist. It also seems like recalls of children’s medications happen all the time.
Why take risks when there are other methods of healing?
Do you avoid over-the-counter children’s medications? Why or why not? What alternative remedies do you use when your children are sick?
*Disclaimer: This post is solely my personal opinion after spending hours of research on this subject. I hope I have laid out some facts that will spur you on to do your own research. I am in no way a medical expert, and you should always conduct your own research and consult your trusted medical professional before making decisions about your family’s health.