Winter means it's time to advise parents about OTC meds

January 13, 2006

This is the time of year when over-the-counter cold and flu preparations fly off store shelves as parents administer these products to their cough-, runny nose-, and congestion-plagued children. But a word to the wise from you can be key: Parents need to know that, just because these medications are sold over-the-counter, doesn't mean they shouldn't be used according to directions on the bottle or box.

This is the time of year when over-the-counter cold and flu preparations fly off store shelves as parents administer these products to their cough-, runny nose-, and congestion-plagued children. But a word to the wise from you can be key: Parents need to know that, just because these medications are sold over-the-counter, doesn't mean they shouldn't be used according to directions on the bottle or box.

Here are some recommendations to offer to parents who are set to give an OTC cold or flu medication to their child:

  • Select a medication that treats only the symptom or symptoms the child has
  • Follow dosage recommendations on the label
  • Be very careful when converting measurements in dosing instructions; with a liquid medication, for example, use a measuring spoon or a dosing cup marked in teaspoons—not a common kitchen spoon
  • Pay attention to medication names; many times, medications with different names and even different intended purposes contain the same active ingredients. Taking two or more such medications together can result in overdose
  • Check with the pharmacist to be certain that any prescription or other non-prescription medication that the child is taking won't cause a adverse drug interaction.

Source: New Jersey Poison Control Center