Administering medicines to kids calls for utmost care, concentration and common sense. Here are nine valuable points to bear in mind while giving your child his or her dose of medicine.
1. The right measure
Most often than not, parents trip on the right measure. The kitchen spoon which mothers use to give the medicine holds more than the recommended dosage … far more than what the doctor has prescribed. Use a standard measuring spoon. All other spoons can hold at least 3 % more or less than what’s actually required.
Try to buy a measuring spoon or jar along with the medicine. Babies need to be given a lot of attention while sick. Avoid giving them medicines in spoons, as the measure may seldom be correct. Instead, measure out the drops correctly or take them in a syringe drop by drop and transfer them into a glass or spoon before administering them. This brings in a lot of accuracy. Utmost care has to be taken while differentiating a tea spoon from a table spoon. Pictures on covers can be misleading.
Stick to the prescription. Most often, parents in their anxiety, administer more than what’s required in the hope of seeing a fast recovery. Any change in dosage should be carried out only as per the advice of the doctor.
2. Don’t forget the vitamins
Doctors usually prescribe vitamins or health supplements along with the daily dose of medicines. But most parents ignore this or give the vitamins a go-by. And those who buy them seldom see to it that the vitamin course is completely given. This is detrimental to the child’s health in the long run.
Always carry the previous prescription while going to the doctor a second time. This will help the doctor in prescribing what works best for the child.
Be alert to the changes in your child while the medicine is given. If allergies pop up, the doctor should be apprised of this fact.
3. Follow the directions
If the dosage has to be administered thrice a day, stick to it religiously. Most parents are in the habit of dropping the dosage once the fever comes down. It’s vital that the prescribed dose of antibiotics be given. If not, the fever or any other ailment for which it was prescribed, comes back with renewed vigor which will call for stronger antibiotics. At times, the bacteria may even resist the antibiotics which can wreak havoc on the child’s health.
4. Don’t play the doctor
When the child complains of sore throat or starts coughing, most parents rush to the medicine closet and bring out what was given to the younger or older sibling. They begin to question the wisdom of their action only when things get out of control and a visit to the doctor becomes inevitable.
The symptoms may be the same, but each child needs his or her own medicine. Parents use a nebulizer when the child starts coughing. Doctors prescribe a nebulizer when asthma or wheezing comes into play. Hence, see to it that nebulizers are used only as per the instructions of the doctor.
Watch out before buying medicines for your child. There are dangers aplenty lurking behind the labels of those self-prescribed cough syrups or medicines for fever. Most cough syrups contain traces of paracetamol. A lot of changes can be wrought to the body when such medicines are downed. Never ever administer two types of medicines without the doctor’s advice.
5. Don’t fool around with medicines
Believe it or not! There are parents who give their kids a dose of cough syrup to lull them into inactivity while traveling. Many a time, such medicines bring in adverse health results. They may even make a child hyper active and produce a totally opposite reaction from what it was actually intended.
6. Age alone is not the factor
Parents are under the impression that age is the most important factor while administering medicines. The child’s weight is far more important than its age. Children of the same age may vary in weight. Boys and girls of the same age seldom share the same weight. All these factors need to be considered while going in for the medicine.
7. Labels are important
There are times when the pharmacist struggles to decode the doctor’s writing. Never commit the cardinal sin of guessing the name of the medicine. Call the doctor and ask for the spelling. The medicine should be bought only after this exercise.
Take great care to check out the labels on the bottle, especially when it comes to buying medicines for kids who have been under long-time treatment for allergies. The dosage prescribed on the labels is an indicator to future use.
8. Don’t make them cry or scream
Parents lose patience when kids resist their medicines. Ramming them down their throats will not serve the purpose. Children will start hating them all the more. Patience pays in such cases.
Maybe, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!
While administering medicines to babies and tots, see that their heads are raised before putting in the drops or spooning them in. Put them on a light diet.
9. Check the medicine bottle!
There’s the oft-quoted story of a mother who poured turpentine into an empty medicine bottle and then absent mindedly administered it to her child. Follow the golden rule of discarding empty medicine bottles. Refrain from pouring in other stuff into them.
And don’t forget to keep medicines out of the reach of kids. Keep them locked.
(Suggested by Dr Girija Mohan, professor and former HOD, T.D.Medical College, Alappuzha, Dr Jayakumar, Addl Prof of Paediatrics, ICH, Govt Medical College, Kottayam)