Why should your child take medicines as the doctor has prescribed them? Drugs are tools doctors use to fight infection, treat disease, and relieve pain. The right drug, however, must be given to the right child, for the right condition, and taken in the right amount (dose) and under the right circumstances to work well. Like any tool, medicines must be used properly to have the desired effect.
There are four basic elements of a prescription you should know:
How Much and How Often
Some medications (for example, pain relievers) are prescribed "as needed" and can be stopped when the child is better. However, you should never stop giving a medication without the approval of your child's doctor. Once your child is better, throw away any leftover "as needed" medications.
Be sure to measure the dose of medicine accurately. For example, a regular spoon is not the same as a measuring spoon, and you might be accidentally altering your child's dose of medicine if you confuse the two. Whenever possible, use a medication measuring spoon or a medication syringe (available from a pharmacist or pharmacy) to administer liquid medication most accurately.
Never share prescribed medicines. Even if two people have the same illness, they may require different drugs with different directions.
Side Effects and Reactions
Allergic reactions to medications are rare, but they do occur. Penicillin and other antibiotics are among the most common drugs to cause an allergic reaction, and the most usual reactions include rash, hives, itching, and sometimes wheezing. Call your child's doctor if your child has any symptoms that seem unrelated to the condition being treated. Not all side effects are allergic reactions. Your child's doctor needs to decide if your child has an allergy and which medications should be avoided in the future.
With or Without Food?
"Take with food": this statement means the medicine may upset your child's empty stomach. In these cases, food will not prevent the drug from working. An example of medicine to take with food is prednisone, an anti-inflammatory agent.
Do not keep old prescriptions if there is any medication left over - they cannot be used later. Flush the old medication down the toilet, or otherwise dispose of it out of children's reach.
If you ever have any questions or concerns about a prescribed drug, call your child's doctor or pharmacist.