Vicks VapoRub May Cause Respiratory Problems in Infants
Vicks VapoRub may cause inflammation in the airways of children and infants, which could give rise to future respiratory problems, according to a new study:
Doctors at Wake Forest University started their study after treating an 18-month-old girl who had developed severe respiratory distress after the salve had been put directly under her nose to relieve cold symptoms.
"The company is really clear that you don't put it in the nose, and you never use it in kids under 2," said lead researcher Dr. Bruce K. Rubin, professor and vice chair for research at Wake Forest's Department of Pediatrics. "Sure enough, when we stopped all the medicine, the child got much better very quickly."
Vicks VapoRub is not really a 'medicine,' and for adults it makes them feel better without actually doing anything to heal them. Within children, however, the rub may actually cause distress to the airway. After these initial findings, additional research was conducted on ferrets and researchers found that Vicks actually increased mucus production by up to 59%, while only reducing mucus by up to 36%.
These findings solidify the notion that parents should always check with their doctors or pediatricians before administering treatments to their children, as many cold medicines can actually be quite harmful.
Dr. Daniel Craven, a pediatric pulmonologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said parents shouldn't use Vicks VapoRub, because it has no medicinal value and may even be dangerous.
"Previous research has failed to demonstrate any respiratory benefits of VapoRub, and conscientious pediatricians have thus usually tried to dissuade families from spending money on this and similarly ineffective therapies," Craven said.
Considering that products like Vicks VapoRub actually have little to no medicinal value, even for adults, perhaps cold suffers should reach for a mug of warm water with lemon to appease their symptoms instead.