Read Labels Closely
It is crucial parents read medication labels carefully, particularly when selecting over-the-counter drugs for kids. "There are different concentrations in liquids and suspensions in children's medication," says Butler. "Parents need to make sure you get the same concentration your doctor is talking about. If you have an infant, you want to look for medications that have dosing specifically for infants."
Butler says Cincinnati Children's has treated children with liver damage from overdosing on an over-the-counter medicine such as Tylenol, simply because the concentration of the medicine was wrong for the child.
Parents should also check labels for drug interaction warnings, instructions on taking the medicine, information about possible side effects, and concerns about pre-existing conditions.
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- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used to relieve minor pains and fevers, and comes in many strengths and forms, such as infant drops, liquids, chewable tablets, tablets, and so on. Acetaminophen is a common ingredient in cough, cold, and allergy medications, so always check product labels before giving acetaminophen with another medication to avoid doubling a dosage.
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) eases pain and headaches, and can also decrease fevers, inflammation, or swelling. Like acetaminophen, children's ibuprofen comes in numerous forms and strengths, so read the labels carefully.
- Cold medicines, cough syrups, decongestants, and allergy medications are available over-the-counter but still have potential side effects. Consult your child's physician for which medicines to use and under what circumstances. Read labels carefully when giving these with other drugs to avoid doubling up on a medicine such as acetaminophen.
- Antiseptics and antibiotic ointments help stop infection in cuts and scrapes.