Cold and flu medication runs short as consumers fight the spread of the illness among children – a phenomenon called a ‘tripledemic.’
According to drug producers, the demand for medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil has increased. This happened during the holidays. Scientists expected this primarily because many individuals traveled during the holidays. According to experts, three varieties of flu would most likely spread due to large crowds in public places and throughout families.
“Consumer demand for pediatric pain relievers in the U.S. is high, but there are no supply chain issues, and we do not have an overall shortage in the U.S.,” said Melissa Witt, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson.
“(The company experiences) high consumer demand and are doing everything we can to ensure people have access to the products they need,” she added.
“We’re facing an onslaught of three viruses — COVID, RSV and influenza. All simultaneously. We’re calling this a tripledemic,” said Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner before the holidays.
“Intensive care units are at or above capacity in every children’s hospital in the United States. So it’s very, very scary for parents,” reported Amy Knight, the Children’s Hospital Association president.
“Influenza has hit the southeastern United States. Then, it moved into the Southwest. Then, it’s going up the East Coast and into the Midwest with some ferocity,” Schaffner added.
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The flu impacts more children
According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, pediatric analgesic sales increased in October. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are examples of such medications. According to the group, western New York had the biggest need for flu medication. However, while manufacturers claim that there is ample supply across the country, there are still locations where flu medications are difficult to get.
“The supply chain is strong,” said Anita Brikman, CHPA spokesperson.
“These medicines are not curative. They don’t alter the duration of the illness or anything like that. They are essentially purely for comfort. Fevers from common respiratory viruses in and of themselves are not harmful,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, a pediatrics professor from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“If [a child’s] temp is 103, but he’s running around the room having a good time playing, you don’t need to do anything with that. That’s not going to hurt him. Fever represents our body’s immune response to an infection. But, on the other hand, if he doesn’t have a fever, but his throat is hurting, something is bothering him, he’s pretty fussy — that’s where things like ibuprofen or Tylenol, acetaminophen can be helpful,” Dr. O’Leary explained.
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Choosing the correct medication
O’Leary emphasized that parents must exercise caution when selecting the appropriate drug for a sick kid and that adult medications may not be the best treatment for children with the flu. O’Leary said that to ensure optimal therapy, parents must visit a professional.
“For acetaminophen and ibuprofen, there are potential toxicities from taking too much — some of which can be quite severe, particularly for acetaminophen. So you have to be careful when you do that,” he said.
“It’s best to talk to the doctor or pharmacist. (If a parent or caregiver) can weigh [the child] at home, tell us what they weigh on their scale at home, we can figure out what an appropriate dose would be for them to take,” added Wendy Mobley-Bukstein, pharmacy practice professor from Drake University.
Photo Credit: Laurel Wamsley