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How many times have consumers not used an over-the-counter product as directed and they experience side effects and report them, causing unfounded claims and reports that the product is damaging or harmful? The personal care industry has seen this happen many times; a recent example being an athlete who died after having misused a pain-relief cream. A recent report concerning Vicks VapoRub is not much different.
Vicks VapoRub, a popular congestion remedy, was reported to cause airway inflammation resulting in restricted breathing in infants and toddlers, according to a study by Wake Forest University. In the January 2009 issue of the journal Chest, researchers found that the small amount of inflammation induced by the product can cause breathing problems. Researchers at Wake Forest initiated the study after treating an 18-month-old girl, who had developed severe respiratory distress after the salve had been applied directly under her nose to relieve cold symptoms. The product's directions also specify that the product should not be placed in the nose. When the researchers stopped using the salve on the child, her condition improved.
To test the product, the researchers conducted experiments with ferrets, who are said to have airways similar to humans. The researchers found that the rub increased mucus production by up to 59% and the ability to clear mucus was reduced by 36%.
According to the researchers, however, as long as the product is used as recommended--and in this instance, the product is restricted from use on children under the age of two--it is safe. Representatives from Procter & Gamble, the product's manufacturer, maintain that if used properly, the product is completely safe.