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FAQ - Medicines and Your Child - Medicines and Children - Safety - Are Medications Safe for Children? - The Truth about Medicines and Children  Answer To Frequently Asked Child Medical Question

Medicines and Your Child

Each child and adolescent is different. No one has exactly the same medical and mental health problems. Talk with your child's doctor about why a medicine is being used.

Give medicines exactly as the doctor tells you. But everyone forgets to give medicine on time once in a while. When you get the medicine, ask the doctor or pharmacist what to do if this happens.

Do not stop, restart, increase, or decrease medicines without asking the doctor first. If a medicine seems to stop working, it may be because it is not being taken regularly. Your child may be cheeking or hiding the medicine or forgetting to take it (especially at school). The doses may be too far apart, or your child may need a different dose now. Something at school, at home, or in the neighborhood may be upsetting your child. Or your child may need special help for learning disabilities or tutoring. Talk to your child's doctor about your concerns. Do not just increase the dose!

Each medicine has a generic or chemical name. Just like dish soap or paper towels, some medicines are sold by more than one company under different brand names. The same medicine may be sold under a generic name and several brand names.. Generic medicines have the same chemical formula, but they may not be exactly the same strength as the brand-name medicines. Also, some brands of pills contain dye that can cause allergic reactions. Ask your child's doctor or pharmacist whether your child should take a specific brand of medicine.

All medicines can cause an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions include hives, itching, rashes, swelling, and trouble breathing. Even a tiny amount of a medicine can cause a reaction in patients who are allergic to that medicine. If your child has a reaction, call your doctor or pharmacist right away. Be sure to talk to your child's doctor before restarting a medicine that has caused and allergic reaction in the past.

All medicines can have side effects. Your child may experience side effects, and you might not be sure if a symptom is caused by the disorder being treated or by the medicine itself. Talk to your child's doctor if you have any concerns.

Taking more than one medicine at the same time may cause more side effects or cause one of the medicines not to work as well. Always ask your child's doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before adding another medicine, either prescription or over-the-counter. Be sure that each doctor knows about all of the medicines your child is taking, Also, tell the doctor about any vitamins, herbal medicines, or diet supplements your child may be taking. Some of these may have side effects alone or when taken with medication.

Everyone taking medicine should have a checkup at least once a year. Taking your child to the follow-up visits the doctor schedules is very important to check your child's response to the medicines and to watch for side effects.

If you think your child is using street drugs or alcohol, please tell the doctor right away.

If you think your child might be pregnant, please tell the doctor right away. Pregnancy requires special care in the use of medicine.

If you have questions about the medicine or if you notice anything unusual, please ask your child's doctor or nurse.

Use one pharmacy for all your child's medicines. Some medications can interact with one another. These interactions can range in severity from mild to fatal. Your child may have more than one doctor prescribing medications for him, and they may not be aware of the other medications your child is receiving. Using one pharmacy will help decrease the chance of adverse drug interactions by allowing the pharmacist to review all of your child's medications.

Ask for childproof bottles for your child's medications. Accidental ingestion of prescription medications is potentially serious. Childproof bottles, in addition to keeping medications out of your child's reach, can help prevent this.

Ask how and where your child's medications should be stored and dispensed. Many people keep medications in the bathroom. The humidity in there can damage pills. Other medications need to be refrigerated. Some liquid medications must be shaken before being given to a child. Ask your pharmacist about these issues when you pick up a prescription.

If your medication is in liquid form, ask for something to measure it. Teaspoons and tablespoons used for eating are not accurate for measuring.

*Printed information like this applies to children and adolescents in general. As researchers learn more, advice changes. Even experts don't always agree. Many medicines have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children. For this reason, use for a certain problem or age group often is not listed in the Physician's Desk Reference. This does not necessarily mean that the medicine is dangerous or does not work. It means only that the company that makes the medicine has not asked for permission to advertise the medicine for use in children. Usually this is because it is expensive to do the tests needed to get that permission.

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