Treating cold, flu symptoms for kids with autism, ADD/ADHD

The average child will have six to 10 colds per year. Evaluating treatment options is especially important in people with multiple sensitivities such as those with autism, ADD and ADHD. Dyes, preservatives and artificial sweeteners are a problem for sensitive children, causing an increase in asthma symptoms, allergic reactions and hyperactivity.

Kim Gould, a pharmacist specializing in autism, ADHD and allergies at PURE Compounding Pharmacy in Naperville (, suggests the following to treat symptoms of cold and flu in children with special needs:

1. Try non-medicinal treatment options first. For example, for congestion use moist heat such as warm compresses to the face and warm showers. Saline nasal sprays and nasal irrigation thin out mucus, decrease post nasal drip and remove viruses/bacteria from the nose.

2. Give plenty of liquids to help decrease the mucus. Warm liquids work best; adding honey to tea helps with coughs. Avoid caffeinated products since they promote dehydration.

3. Give vitamin C and zinc at the onset of symptoms to reduce the length of a cold. Zinc lozenges may also soothe the throat and reduce coughing. Gould’s favorite is a zinc lozenge with slippery elm.

4. Accurate temperature-taking is important. For active or touch-sensitive children, easy-to-use forehead scanning thermometers are available.

5. Only Ibuprofen is recommended for fever, headache and body aches in people with autism. Acetaminophen is thought to reduce the levels of glutathione (an antioxidant deficient in people with autism).

6. Many children with special needs are on prescription drugs, so be sure to check for drug interactions when giving a non-prescription medication or remedy by calling your pharmacist or going online to use the interaction checker at

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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