8 medication mistakes parents make
Are you making these mistakes, too?
Nothing gets a parent more upset than when their child is sick. In these instances, medication – whether over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor – provides peace of mind to parents through relieving their child’s symptoms. But there are common medication mistakes parents make that could make things worse.
It’s all too easy for parents to get carried away when medicating their children, with the hope of easing discomfort faster. This is where many parents may end up making medication mistakes, that could have a negative, rather than positive impact on their child’s health.
You hate hearing your little one cough every night due to a cold, and so you head to the nearest pharmacy and pick up a bottle of “cough and cold” medicine.
However, Dr Raut says that these medications do little to affect the course of illness, even though they may help to slightly relieve your child’s runny nose.
Also, according to other medical experts, many over-the-counter (OTC) medicines contain the same active ingredients, even though they treat different symptoms. For example, many multi-symptom cold medicines contain paracetamol.
So if you give your child this medicine to treat his stuffy nose, and then Panadol for fever, he’s actually getting double the recommended dose, which could be harmful to his health.
Give natural remedies a try when it comes to relieving symptoms of the common cold. This article provides you with some great information on the topic.
Never give your child two medications at the same time unless on the doctor’s orders.
2. Stopping a course of antibiotics early
Many of us have made this mistake: our kid seems better so we stop his course of antibiotics because we assume he doesn’t need it anymore.
Antibiotics are given to kill the germs that cause an infection. But if you stop the antibiotics prematurely, there is a chance that the germs will not get completely eliminated, causing a re-infection, says Dr Raut.
He further explains that germs have a rate of growth and antibiotic duration is dependent on this rate of growth. So a slow-growing strain of bacteria will need a longer duration of antibiotics to completely kill it.
Finish the entire course of antibiotics, even if your child seems better.
Hands up if you have ever given your child a small dose of cough syrup before a flight to make him sleepy?
If you do this, you might want to think again. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical College found that a popular drug commonly given to kids before a flight to make them sleepy actually might make some of them more hyperactive!
Take loads of toys, books, health snacks and a good dose of patience on your next air travel trip with your kids!
Dr Raut advises that this can lead to either under- or over-dosing – and both situations are undesirable and should be avoided.
Children metabolise medication differently based on how much they weigh, not how old they are. Medical experts explain that this distinction becomes even more important when giving medication if your child is either underweight or overweight.
Studies have found that overweight kids metabolise caffeine and dextromethorphan (found in many cough suppressants) faster than their average-weight peers.
This means that they might need more medicine than the label indicates.
If your child’s weight is higher or lower than what is indicated in the corresponding age category on the label of the OTC medicine you pick, consult your paediatrician first. Your child’s doctor should also always calculate the dosage of medicine based on your child’s weight, when writing out prescriptions.
A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but when it comes to measuring medication, a ‘spoonful’ may not be completely accurate.
In fact, according to a study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, some household kitchen spoon may even hold two to three times more liquid than others, which could lead to an overdose of medication.
The same is true for those printed medication cups. A study from the New York University School of Medicine found that 70 percent of parents pour more than the prescribed dose into these cups. Researchers believe that this may be because some parents think the cup is the full dose, or they don’t look at the markings at eye level when pouring in the medication.
Get rid of the teaspoons and tablespoon measures and use a syringe instead. A study in Pediatrics found that measuring medications in millilitres instead of in teaspoons or tablespoons cuts the risk of dosing mistakes by half.
We’ve all been here: our kid has fever so we give Panadol. In an hour, his fever is still high, so we give more Panadol.
What this results in is over-medication which could potentially be harmful to your child’s health.
You should not give your child more than four doses of paracetamol in 24 hours, so you may have to wait up to 6 hours between doses.
To help you remember, write down the time that you give each dose.
Fever is actually an indication that your child’s body is working hard to fight an infection. If your child has low-grade fever, consider avoiding giving medication so his body gets a chance the fight the bug on its own, which will help strengthen his immune system.
Dr Raut says that while some kids are able to tolerate the heat of a fever of 39 degrees, others become cranky when it hits 38 degrees. He explains that the use of medication is more to bring about relief from the heat of the fever, rather than treat the underlying cause.
If your child has low-grade fever, try ways other than medication to bring about relief. For example, you could apply a damp cloth to your child’s forehead and armpits, which usually helps.
Remember: any fever in a newborn is cause for concern, so if your newborn has even low fever, take him to the doctor without delay.
Traditional remedies and Western medicine work in very different ways. Dr Raut explains that it’s very hard to tell if the two will work in synergy for a particular condition, or interact in a harmful way.
If your child is already on a TCM remedy and your doctor recommends pharmaceutical drugs, always tell the doctor about the TCM remedy. The same rule applies if you are seeking the advice of a TCM practitioner and your child is already on Western medication.