Family FYI: Medication Safety

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Giving kids medicine safely can be complicated. It may be frightening to give a young child certain medications knowing that too much or too little can cause serious effects.
But with a little knowledge and a lot of double-checking, you can give your kids medicine safely and prevent dangerous reactions.

Using medications safely means knowing when they’re necessary—and when they’re not. Always check with the doctor if you’re unsure whether symptoms require treatment with medication.

Administering Medication

To ensure the safe use of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, discuss your child’s symptoms with your doctor and pharmacist.
When giving your child medicines, you’ll need to know:

• The name and purpose of the medication

• How much, how often and for how long the medication should be taken

• How the medicine should be administered (whether it should be taken by mouth, breathed into the lungs, inserted into the ears, eyes or rectum, or applied to the skin)

• Any special instructions, like whether the medicine should be taken with or without food

• How the medicine should be stored

• How long the medicine can safely be stored before it needs to be discarded (asthma inhalers, for example)

• Common side effects or reactions

• Interactions with other medications your child may be taking

• What happens if your child misses a dose

Did You Know?

Before giving your child medicine, make sure you know these abbreviations:
tbsp = tablespoon
tsp = teaspoon
oz = ounce
mi = milliliter
mg = milligram

If the prescribed dose is given in a different measurement than your measuring syringe, cup or spoon, don’t try to convert it—and don’t use a regular spoon because that’s not the same as a measuring spoon. Instead, head to your local store or pharmacy for a measuring instrument that will provide an accurate dose.