Kids Tylenol, Advil, Motrin in short supply: What parents should know – USA TODAY

The sniffles are running rampant among children this year as the country sees a surge in respiratory viruses, leading to an unprecedented demand for over-the-counter medications.
Despite the early warnings from health experts, parents are still confronted by empty pharmacy shelves looking for something to alleviate their kids’ symptoms.  
“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and this fall-winter is like no other. It’s bananas,” said Dr. Shelly Vaziri Flais, assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of medicine and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Health experts don’t anticipate the shortage to end anytime soon as flu, COVID-19, RSV, and cold cases continue to rise ahead of holiday gatherings.
Pain relievers in short supply include: Children’s acetaminophen, like Tylenol, and ibuprofen, like Motrin and Advil. Health experts say generic versions of these medications are also hard to find. 
Other drugs in short supply: Children’s antibiotics, like liquid amoxicillin.
Why experts say this is happening: The surge in respiratory viruses causing cold-like symptoms has driven the demand for over-the-counter medications, said Vaziri Flais. Antibiotics are also in short supply because they’re used to treat bacterial infections that often form as a result. 
“Viruses are not treated by antibiotics … but viruses can lead to secondary complications that need antibiotics,” she said. “For babies and toddlers, nasal congestion can easily lead to congesting the middle ear space, which is an ear infection.” 
Summer Kerley, a doctor of pharmacy and Rite Aid’s vice president of clinical and market access solutions, said there are ways to treat kids’ cold symptoms without over-the-counter medications:
Overall, it’s important to keep the child comfortable while riding out the fever. Keep them hydrated and let them rest. 
“It’s OK to have a fever,” Kerley said. “A fever is our body’s way of saying, ‘hey, I’m trying to fight an infection.'”
Vaziri Flais recommends calling a doctor if your child shows one or more of these signs:
She urges parents to avoid the emergency room unless they think their child is experiencing a medical emergency.
Overall, Vaziri Flais said the best way to care for a sick child is to keep at-home remedies simple, treat what your child is feeling (not the number on the thermometer), trust your gut, and “typically, less is more.” 
“Just because (over-the-counter drugs) are sold in the store doesn’t mean your child needs it,” she said. 
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. 
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.


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