Aren't Just Small Adults:
Advice for Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Your Child
sneezing, coughing - the new school year will likely bring days
that your child doesn't feel well. But before heading to the medicine
cabinet, be sure to review the following tips from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). Always use care when giving any medicine
to an infant or a child. Even over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that
you buy at the drug store are serious medicines.
read and follow the Drug Facts label on your OTC medicine. This
is important for choosing and safely using all OTC medicines. Read
the label every time, before you give the medicine. Be sure you
clearly understand how much medicine to give and when the medicine
can be taken again.
the "active ingredient" in your child's medicine. This
is what makes the medicine work and is always listed at the top
of the Drug Facts label. Sometimes an active ingredient can treat
more than one medical condition. For that reason, the same active
ingredient can be found in many different medicines that are used
to treat different symptoms. For example, a medicine for a cold
and a medicine for a headache could each contain the same active
ingredient. So, if you're treating a cold and a headache with two
medicines and both have the same active ingredient, you could be
giving two-times the normal dose. If you're confused about your
child's medicines, check with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
the right medicine, in the right amount, to your child. Not all
medicines are right for an infant or a child. Medicines with the
same brand name can be sold in many different strengths, such as
infant, children, and adult formulas. The amount and directions
are also different for children of different ages or weights. Always
use the right medicine and follow the directions exactly. Never
use more medicine than directed, even if your child seems sicker
than the last time.
to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse to find out what mixes well
and what doesn't. Medicines, vitamins, supplements, foods and beverages
don't always mix well with each other. Your healthcare professional
the dosing tool that comes with the medicine, such as a dropper
or a dosing cup. A different dosing tool, or a kitchen spoon, could
hold the wrong amount of medicine.
the difference between a tablespoon (tbsp.) and a teaspoon (tsp.)
Do not confuse them! A tablespoon holds three times as much medicine
as a teaspoon. On measuring tools, a teaspoon (tsp.) is equal to
"5 cc" or "5 ml."
your child's weight. Directions on some OTC medicines are based
on weight. Never guess the amount of medicine to give to your child
or try to figure it out from the adult dose instructions. If a dose
is not listed for your child's age or weight, call your child's
doctor or other members of your child's healthcare team.
a poison emergency by always using a child-resistant cap. Re-lock
the cap after each use. Be especially careful with any products
that contain iron; they are the leading cause of poisoning deaths
in young children
all medicines in a safe place. Today's medicines are tasty, colorful
and many can be chewed. Kids may think that these products are candy.
To prevent an overdose or poisoning emergency, store all medicines
and vitamins in a safe place out of your child's (and even your
pet's) sight and reach. If your child takes too much, call the Poison
Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 (open 24 hours every day, 7 days
a week) or call 9-1-1.
the medicine three times. First, check the outside packaging for
such things as cuts, slices, or tears. Second, once you are at home,
check the label on the inside package to be sure you have the right
medicine. Make sure the lid and seal are not broken. Third, check
the color, shape, size, and smell of the medicine. If you notice
anything different or unusual, talk to a pharmacist or another healthcare
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The information presented on this site is intended
solely as a general educational aid, and is neither medical nor
healthcare advice for any individual problem, nor a substitute for
medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified
healthcare provider familiar with your unique circumstances. Always
seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare
professional regarding any medical condition and before starting
any new treatment.