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Parents Corner

Medications and Children

Written by: Julie Loe, B.S., PTA, Director of Pediatric Services

Antibiotics

To kill or lower the number of bacteria in the body. It is necessary to take all of the prescribed dose in order to kill all of the bacteria.
Discontinuation of antibiotics too soon can actually increase the strength of the bacteria. This results in the need for stronger antibiotics the next time there is an infection.
They should not be used for colds. A cold is a virus and does not respond to antibiotics.

Common over-the-counter medication recommended for children

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Synthesized chemical with similar properties of aspirin, such as to lower a fever and receive aches and pains.
WARNING: Aspirin should NEVER be given to children under 18 years of age due to the possible risk of contraction of Reye's Syndrome; consult your pediatrician for further information.

Cough syrups

Expectorant: Helps to liquify the phlegm, there by making it easier to cough it out.
Suppressant: Lowers the urge of the body to cough, usually used at night when coughing interferes with sleep.
Decongestant: Helps to liquify the phlegm, primarily for stuffy noses.

Alternative to over-the-counter medications

Consult your physician before treating your child or if the condition persists.

Condition

Alternative

FEVER Lukewarm sponge bath, wear only light clothing.
COUGH Drink extra liquids, honey with lemon juice.
STUFFY NOSE Liquids and additional rest.
CONSTIPATION Fruit, liquids, bulk fiber in diet.
UPSET STOMACH Milk, soda, bland crackers, rest.
DIARRHEA Stop solid foods and formula/milk, but not nursing; drink clear liquids. NOTE: This can become a serious condition if it persists, so contact physician for further information.

Hints for giving medication to young children

Don't be upset if a little spills or is spit up, as long a baby gets most of it.
Give the whole course of treatment, especially antibiotics. Don't discontinue medication if baby misses one dose.
Don't double the next dose if baby misses a dose.
Make the taste palatable if possible by mixing with good tasting food such as fruit, jam, syrup, but not baby's favorite or standard food because then she may dislike that food.
Try not to make medicine time a fight.
Eye-drops: Baby should be reclined, insert dropper between cheek and gum then slowly squeeze dropper
Nose-drops: Lay baby on her back; understand that drops may be uncomfortable on the back of her throat.
Solid oral medications: Crush or grind tablets into powder and mix with good-tasting food.
Realize that medications do not taste good, so baby's reaction is normal!

For questions, comments or additional information on this topic, send a feedback note or fax (805) 771-9538.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013