OTC medications are in almost everyone’s household. We use them for everything from stuffy noses to helping us sleep. Many OTC medications get an extra workout throughout the school year. Let’s face it. Kids are walking petri dishes, and they bring home EVERYTHING. Whether it’s the creeping crud or stomach flu, if it’s going around it’s bound to show up at our homes. And since many sicknesses involve more than one symptom and many OTC medications are designed to treat more than one symptom, it’s important to read the Drug Facts label on every medication we take or that we give our children to take.
Knowing what’s in our medications is vitally important to our health. For example, too much acetaminophen is bad for your liver. Did you know that Tylenol is acetaminophen and that Excedrin also contains acetaminophen? You don’t want to take those concurrently. That’s just one example using medications we readily recognize. However, many medications treat multiple symptoms using multiple active ingredients. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what’s in the OTC medications that we take and that we give. It’s especially important during the school year, when we are constantly battling every nasty bug that our children bring home.
To known exactly what you’re giving and exactly what it’s for, it’s important to read the Drug Facts label and not rely solely on the packaging. The Drug Facts label allows us to know exactly what we’re giving our loved ones and what we’re taking ourselves and helps us prevent accidental overdose and other complications from medications.
Read the Ingredients
As I said, some medications have more than one active ingredient, and it’s important to know what they are. For example, if you child has a cough, cold, and fever, you want to be sure you aren’t accidentally giving them too much medication if you’re dosing 2 or more OTC medications. With all the multi-symptom meds out there, it’s certainly possible and even likely. Remember that I mentioned that acetaminophen is in many medications? It’s a common ingredient in children’s meds. So if you’re giving your child cough and cold medicine but also plan to give them acetaminophen for fever, it’s important to know the ingredients in each and every med so you don’t double dose.
Determine the Use
Are the OTC medications you plan to give your child the right ones? The Drug Facts label can help you determine that. For example, if your child has a cough, you really don’t need to give them a cough and cold medication. A cough syrup will do. Remember treat for the symptoms and only the symptoms. Don’t give multi-use meds if you don’t have to. Also consider if the medication is being used properly. Remember, OTC medications treat symptoms, not illnesses.
Don’t Use OTC Medications to Induce Sleep
It’s never a good idea to give medication when it’s not necessary to treat a specific symptom. As a mom of three, I know it can be tempting to spike your kid with a spoon full of cough syrup when he or she is being rotten at bedtime, but resist! Meds should only be given when needed.
Know the Recommended Age
The Drug Facts label can help you determine if you child is old enough to take OTC medications. for example, unless otherwise directed by a doctor, most cough and cold medications are labeled for children 4 years of age and older.
Always keep your OTC medications out of tiny hands. And if your little one somehow manages to get into the medicine and you think they took something call poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
Safety with OTC Medications Begins with the Drug Facts Label
OTC medications can play an important role in our children’s safety, but they also require a bit of homework. You don’t want to accidentally double dose or give unnecessary medications. Always be sure to read the Drug Facts label before giving any OTC medications just to be safe. You can get a feel for the Drug Facts label and how it works by using the interactive Drug Facts label here.