The straight dose: what to remember when your child gets a new prescription
Patricia Vandecruys, Pharmacist and Site Manager at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre, says your pharmacist can answer questions about how the medication works, what dose to give, and how often. Your pharmacist will give you an information sheet about the medication, but it’s a good idea to review the following points with them before you head home.
- The name of the medicine.
- What the medicine is for.
- The dose or amount of medicine to give your child, and how to measure it if it’s a liquid medicine (your pharmacist can provide you with a dosing spoon or oral syringe).
- How often and for how long you should give your child the medicine—e.g. 3 times/day for 10 days. Always finish an antibiotic treatment as prescribed even after symptoms have subsided.
- Whether your child can take the medicine with food.
- How to know if the medicine is working.
- What to do if a dose is missed or if your child vomits after taking the medicine.
- The most common and important side effects.
Also, if your child is taking other medications, go over the list with the pharmacist to make sure there won’t be any problem giving two medications at the same time. Remember to mention over-the-counter medications, natural products and homeopathic remedies too.
What to tell your child
There are a few key points that will help make the process easier. The first one is easy: tell the truth! Let your child know that the medicine will make them feel better. Don’t tell them it tastes ok if you know it doesn’t, but you can tell them it will only taste bad for a minute. If a popsicle or drink might help afterwards and is allowed, then have one at the ready.
The hard part made easy
When giving your child their medicine, keep these tips in mind:
- Be positive about it so you can help set their mind at ease.
- Get your child involved: ask them to remind you when it’s time to give the medication.
- Set aside enough time so that neither of you feels rushed. You can ask your child where they’d like to sit to help them feel part of the decision.
- Never give more than the required dose. A little medicine is good – a lot of medicine is not.
- Keep the medicine in a cool, dry place and store it high up out of your child’s reach, and/or follow any other specific storage instructions (e.g. medicine that needs to be refrigerated).
And always remember: if your child has any problems or reactions after taking their medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist right away.