If You Are Giving Over The Counter Medicins To Yout Child: All You Must Know As A Parent
What are over-the-counter medicines?
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are medicines that you can buy in a pharmacy or store without a doctor’s prescription. They come in different forms, including syrups, pills, creams, and eye drops.
OTC medicines are commonly used to treat:
- Fever (if it makes your child uncomfortable)
- Cough and cold
- Skin rashes, diaper rashes, or hives
- Diarrhea or constipation
Some OTC medicines can cure conditions (such as rashes), but many only treat symptoms for a short time.
How do I know the correct dose of medicine for my child?
To figure out the correct dose, you need to look at the medicine’s “Drug Facts” label . The section called “Directions” tells you how much medicine to use and how often to use it.
The dose might depend on your child’s weight. If you do not know your child’s weight, use the dosage for his or her age.
To give your child the correct dose, make sure to:
- Use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. If the medicine doesn’t have a dosing device, ask the pharmacy, doctor, or nurse for one.
- Read the directions every time, even if you have given the medicine to your child before. Medicines can come in different strengths. Also, companies sometimes change medicines and doses.
- Follow the directions carefully. Do not give your child more medicine than directed. Giving your child extra medicine will not make him or her feel better, and it can cause serious problems.
Can OTC medicines cause side effects?
Yes. OTC medicines can cause side effects. The side effects depend on the medicine. Children are more likely to get side effects from OTC medicines than adults.
Can I give my child 2 or more OTC medicines at the same time?
It depends on the medicines and their “active ingredient.” The active ingredient is the part of the medicine that treats symptoms. Every medicine has at least one active ingredient.
To know what the active ingredient is, look at the Drug Facts label . It’s important to read the Drug Facts carefully, because medicines that treat different conditions can have the same active ingredient. For example, fever medicines and cough and cold medicines can have the same active ingredient.
Do not give your child 2 medicines with the same active ingredient. Giving your child 2 medicines with the same active ingredient can cause an overdose. This can cause serious – and even life-threatening – problems.
When should I call the doctor or nurse?
Call the doctor or nurse if:
- Your child has side effects or problems from an OTC medicine.
- Your child’s symptoms don’t get better or get worse after using an OTC medicine.
What else should I do?
- Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about OTC medicines at routine check-ups, before your child gets sick. Ask him or her which medicines you should use, when to use them, and how to use them. That way, if your child gets sick, you will know what to do.
- Ask questions if you are unsure which medicine to use or how to use it. You can ask the pharmacist or your child’s doctor or nurse.
- Choose a medicine made to treat only the symptoms or condition your child has.
- Close the medicine tightly and store it out of your child’s reach
- Throw out medicine that has expired (gone bad).
- Teach your child that medicine shouldn’t be eaten like candy, and that it can be dangerous to take too much.
Here are some other safety tips:
- Do notgive your child medicine made for adults without first asking the doctor or nurse.
- Do notgive cough and cold medicines to children younger than 6 years old. Cough and cold medicines can cause serious problems in young children. Plus, they are not likely to help with symptoms.
- Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years old. It can cause a life-threatening condition called Reye syndrome in young people.
Dr. Savan Patel
DCH Pediatrics/ Fellowship in
Neonatal and Pediatric Critical Care.