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The last thing that a parent would want is their preschooler getting sick, or catching a bug. However, sickness in preschoolers is inevitable. The difficult part is when parents fail to understand what medications to give and when to approach doctors.
Children are sensitive to medications, which is why it is not advisable to give the children adult medications. For a child less than 6 months of age, it is always advisable to give medicines under the supervision of a paediatrician.
Here are some of the medications which are frequently prescribed by doctors till toddlerhood and beyond:
Medications for Pain and Fever
- Paracetamol reduces pain and fever in children. Fever higher than a 100 deg F can make your child irritable. If the child is active and comfortable with his fever, do not administer the medicine. Give medicine to him only when he is cranky and uncomfortable. When the child has fever, his body is fighting against an infection. Medication that reduces fever might slow down the process. Follow the recommended doses of paracetamol depending on your child’s weight and age. Also, look for symptoms like vomiting and coughing before administering paracetamol.
- Ibuprofen is an effective alternative to paracetamol. However, the doctor needs to prescribe it to you. It cannot be taken with an empty stomach, so if your child has no appetite, do not give him ibuprofen.
- Antibiotics work only when the infection is bacterial. Do try not to give these when there is a viral infection. Antibiotics when used incorrectly can cause side effects or allergic reactions. Most often doctors will check if your child is allergic to any kind of antibiotic before prescribing it. The doctor also needs to have a fair idea about the history of your child’s health and the course of antibiotics your child has been given in the past.
Medications for Cough and Cold
Most doctors will tell you to allow the cough and cold to run its course before prescribing medications for it. A general rule should be that children below 6 years of age should not be given cough and cold medications. Allowing the cold to run its course strengthens the child’s immune system. Drinking plenty of fluids and water is recommended to relieve the cough. Coughing actually helps your child clear the mucus from airways and prevents other respiratory infections. For children below 1 year of age, doctors prescribe saline nasal drops and steam inhalation.
Medications for Allergies
Antihistamines are prescribed to reduce allergies such as itching, sneezing and rashes. Sometimes these medications can cause drowsiness and sedation. Please check with your doctor before you give it to your child.
Medications to Avoid
Please do not rely on hearsay and ‘suggestions’ from other parents about medications. What might work for their child might not work for yours. Here are some medicines you should avoid:
- If your child is dehydrated due to excessive vomiting, rehydrate using natural methods rather than giving him anti-nausea medications.
- Do not mix medications, e.g, don’t mix cold and cough medications with paracetamol. Some cold and cough medications might contain paracetamol and there could be a danger of overdosing.
- Never give medications meant for adults to the child.
- Read the expiry date of the medication before you give it to your child. Expired medication can be very unsafe.
Questions to Ask your Doctor
It is important to know what medications your doctor is giving to your child and for what purpose. Ask the doctor about the side effects of the medicine and how soon it can kick in. Clearly ask about the dosage to be given to your child and when it should be administered. You need to clearly ask the duration for which the child needs to take the medicine. If your child has been vaccinated or is on any other medication, ask if the prescribed medication will interfere with anything else the child is taking.
Read the label on the cover about how to store the medication – you can always confirm with your pharmacist. Some medications require the child to avoid certain foods – ask the doctor about this clearly. Check for alcohol ingredients in the medicine and if the medication is safe for your child. Last word of advice, never self-diagnose and administer drugs and medicines to your toddler. Always consult a doctor.