Discussing the danger of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine misuse is a very important but often overlooked conversation that every parent needs to have with his or her children. All too often, children are taken to the E.R. due to the accidental misusage of OTC medicines. Educating your children on the importance of medicine safety can help prevent these E.R. visits from occurring.
Making younger children take their medicine is certainly no walk in the park; however, you should never encourage them to take their medicine by comparing it to “candy.” Telling your child that their cough medicine tastes like bubble gum can cause them to want to take the medicine when they do not need to. This can lead to accidental indigestion and overdoses. When treating your child for an illness, you should take the time to talk to them about the specific reason for taking the medicine. Try using words like “treatment” or “cure” rather than “this will help you to feel better.” Explain that medicines should only be taken under adult supervision and when sick or hurt, and that if taken otherwise, OTC medicines can be extremely dangerous to their health and well-being.
The best way to prevent misusage of OTC drugs is to always practice proper medicine safety in your home and also teach your children the same safety precautions:
- Always read the entire Drug Facts label prior to giving your child the medicine
- Never give your child more than the labeled dose
- Never take the medicine more frequently than directed on the label
- Never take medicines for longer than directed on the label
- Always check the medicine’s expiration date before taking, and immediately dispose of medication if it is expired
- Never take medicines to treat symptoms that are not listed on the label
- Talk with a doctor or healthcare professional before mixing different kinds of medication
When giving your child medicine, always use the dosing advice that originally came with the bottle. Kitchen spoons, tablespoons and teaspoons may not always measure the same amount as the actual dosing device. After your child has taken his or her medicine, put the medicine away immediately. A designated cabinet that is out of reach from all little ones is an ideal, safe location to store your family’s medicines. Choosing OTC medicines that are packaged in bottles with child resistant caps that can be sealed tightly will also help prevent accidental indigestion.
OTC drug misuse is extremely preventable; however, it is important to keep the Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) in your phone in case of an emergency. Always remind your children how important OTC medicines are, that they keep us healthy, but only when used properly. Take the time to fully understand the medicine that you are giving your children, and help them understand it as well. For more information about preventing medicine misuse in your home or if you have any questions about OTC medicines, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311.