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Four major cold medication ingredients:

Cough and cold medications come either as one of the following types of medicines, or a combination of two, three or all four ingredients:

  • Nasal decongestant – This will clear nasal passages making it easier to breath through the nose. It also has a mild drying effect so it will also help relieve runny nose a bit. I like to use decongestants during the day because they won't make your child drowsy. This is important if your child is going to school. Side effects may include excitability, which might interfere with sleep.
  • Anti-histamine – This helps relieve a very itchy, runny nose. It decreases mucous production in the nose. The most likely side effect is drowsiness, which is fine at night, but could interfere with daytime activities.
  • Cough suppressant – this helps with a persistent annoying cough. It acts by suppressing the cough reflex in the throat and lungs so that the mucous or irritation there won't trigger coughing. There are no likely side effects.
  • Expectorant – this helps when your child has thick chest congestion, which he is unable to cough up. It loosens thick mucous, making it easier to cough up. There are no likely side effects.

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