Q & As: Medication Safety in Children
Did you know that medications are the top cause of poisoning in kids? 1 Together, we can help change that! To get started, here are a few answers to some questions parents commonly ask about medication safety for kids.
- 1. Where should I store medications? People may call it the “medicine
cabinet,” but it’s not a good place to store medications. Bathrooms are moist
and can lower the strength of a medication. Plus, they’re a little too easy for little
hands to get into.
Instead, keep drugs, eye drops, and vitamins out of sight and out of reach of children. Try a high place, such as a hall closet or kitchen shelf. Don’t forget that a curious kid may easily find medicine in a purse or dresser drawer.1, 2
2. How should I measure medicine? With young children, it’s especially important to get the dosing right. Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Measuring spoons or other home utensils aren’t the same as a medication syringe or cup. 1 If you use a syringe, try squirting the medicine on the inside of the cheek where there are fewer taste buds. Ask us about the benefits of using medibottles and medication pacifiers for babies.4
If your child takes the wrong dosage, call your pharmacist or pediatrician right away. We can tell you whether or not it’s cause for concern. Call Poison Control for assistance, as well.
3. Does a spoonful of sugar help the medicine go down? Some medicines can taste pretty nasty to a child! It may be okay to mix a liquid medication with chocolate or maple syrup. However, don’t do this for babies. If they don’t finish a bottle, they won’t get the right amount of medication.2 Check with us before crushing and mixing a tablet or capsule with food. Some drugs are only stable for a short time, or not at all, when mixed with other products. Ask us about flavoring or alternative dosage forms that can be customized for your child. 4
4. Is it okay to share prescription medications? No matter how similar their symptoms, don’t have your kids share medications.2 Keep medications in their original childproof container.
5. How long can my child use a medication? Be sure to not use drugs past their expiration date. Most drugs lose their strength after about a year. If you have any question about whether or not to use a drug, talk with your child’s doctor or pharmacist.2
6. Are OTC drugs safe for kids? Be sure to read labels. Not all over-the- counter (OTC) medications are safe for children of all ages. Of course, never give aspirin to any child—it can cause serious illness, even death.3
Make sure you know a drug’s potential side effects, and stay alert to any adverse reactions. Kids can be more sensitive to drugs than adults. For example, cold medications can cause excitability or severe drowsiness in kids, even at lower doses. The FDA recommends that you not use OTC cough and cold medications in children younger than age two. 3 Rest, clear fluids, and a humidifier may be the best route to recovery from colds and flu.4
Remember: There’s no substitute for getting your specific questions answered. We are here to personally talk with you about your child’s medications. We can also suggest OTC drugs and discuss any concerns you have about side effects. If you don’t remember a question until you’re home, that’s okay. Just give us a call.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
- 1. Safe Kids: “Medication Safety.” Available at: http://www.safekids.org/medicinesafety Accessed June 12, 2014.
- 2. Kids Health: “Talking to the Pharmacist.” Available at: http://kidshealth.org/ parent/general/sick/pharmacist.html# Accessed June 12, 2014.
- 3. FDA: “Giving Medication to Children.” Available at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM164439.pdf Accessed June 12, 2014.
- 4. Kids Health: “Medication Safety.” Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/ firstaid_safe/home/medication_safety.html Accessed June 12, 2014.