Over-The-Counter Meds & Kids

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Proper dosing and home remedies help kids fare better.

It’s that time of year, where you may find yourself prowling the pharmacy aisle in search of an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, for your child … but is it OK to give OTC meds along with a doctor’s prescription?

Acetaminophen Advice
In summer 2011, some makers of liquid acetaminophen revised their infant and children products to contain a standard amount of medicine. Prior to that, infants’ medicine was three times as strong as the children’s version. Why the change? “Overdoses were happening,” says Rosy Thind, M.D. She says parents were giving toddlers and kids the same medicine they were giving to their infants, and not realizing that the infant drops were more concentrated so that infants didn’t have to consume as much liquid. The concentration of the infant drops is now diluted to match the children’s concentration (160mg/5mL), so be sure to check the dosing amounts before administering any medication.
Thind advises parents to steer clear of ibuprofen for babies younger than 6 months, as there haven’t been any real studies to test the effects. She also says parents should not give acetaminophen to infants younger than 2 months of age. “If they display symptoms like a fever or are irritable, then they need to be seen, as they could have a serious infection.” Parents should always call their pediatrician if their infant younger than 2 months of age has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, and call if your child’s fever reaches 103 degrees. Thind also advises parents to take into consideration how their child appears. “Do they perk up after some medication? What other symptoms are present?” she says.

Help at Home
Thind says it is OK to give an OTC medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen along with a doctor’s prescription – just make sure your pediatrician knows about it. “It’s OK with antibiotics, there’s no drug interaction,” she says, adding that antibiotics won’t be prescribed for a cold caused by a virus. Which unfortunately means that your child will have to suffer through it. But there are some home remedies that might help ease his symptoms, along with acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fevers or pain. Thind says a teaspoon of honey for kids older than 1 year is good for congestion and coughs, and tea or warm soup is a good way to thin mucous. “Parents can also sit in a steamy bathroom with their child and read a book.”
You can also break out the vaporizer or humidifier. “Either one is helpful for colds caused by a virus,” says Thind, “as they both put moisture in the air.” Vaporizers typically put out warm steam, while humidifiers provide a cool mist. Make sure you keep them clean, though! “Mold can build up if they’re not cleaned and drained,” says Thind, adding that parents should always read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper cleaning guidelines.



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