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Medicines are crucial to a child's health. However, medical illiteracy on your part might cause some serious damage that can be prevented. As a rule, almost always refer to a doctor before picking out medicines for your child. Here, we've got 8 common medication mistakes to avoid.

1. Giving the wrong medication

Always read the label for instructions and check expiry date to make sure it’s the right one for your kid’s symptoms and age. Never remove labels from medication bottles, put medications in other compartments or bags, or mix medications together. Make a habit of regularly checking your medicine cabinet for expired medicines to be disposed off. Expiry dates are not always listed on bottles, so check with your chemist if you’re unsure.   

2. Overmedicating common cold

Many over-the-counter medicines contain the same active ingredients even though the symptoms they treat differ. For instance, lots of multi-symptom cold medications contain acetaminophen, the same drug found in Tylenol. If you treat your kid's congestion and fever with Tylenol, he/she get double the recommended amount of acetaminophen. For a child over the age of 6 who has a cold, consider the symptoms before buying any over-the-counter cold medicine.

3. Ignoring the doctor's orders

It's tempting to stop giving antibiotics when your kids seem better and it's a battle to get them to take their medicines. However, bacteria can linger on and become resistant to the medication if you don't follow the full course of treatment. If the illness returns, your child will have to start over with a full course of a different medicine that may have more severe side effects. Ask the doctor and pharmacist about adding flavoring or mixing the medication with food.

4. Giving medicines for "off-label" purposes

It’s not recommended to give your child a certain medicine because it ‘also’ helps with the problem for which your child needs medication. For example, many parents give Benadryl to their children to help them sleep, but 11% percent of kids get more excitable, not calm, after taking the drug. When researchers set out to show that Benadryl causes sleepiness, they instead learned that it actually made kids more hyperactive.

5. Using medicine for one child to treat another

Let's assume your previously healthy child starts complaining that his/her throat hurts just like his brother’s, who is already being treated. It might seem all-right to diagnose the problem yourself and treat you child with his /her brother’s medicines. But if your diagnosis is wrong, your kid's health could get worse. Giving unprescribed medicines also ups your child's risk of antibiotic resistance. Leave the diagnosing to the medical experts, and never let your child share the same prescription as anyone else even if he/she has the same condition. Dosing amounts vary depending on an individual kid's age, weight, and medical history.

6. Basing the dose on your child's age instead of his weight

Children metabolize medicine differently depending on their weight, not how old they are. This distinction is especially critical if your child happens to be over or underweight for their age. A study found that overweight children metabolize caffeine and dextromethorphan, a key constituent in many cough suppressants, at a rate faster than their average weight peers. This means they might need more than what the label suggests. Always follow the dosage recommended by your doctor or as written on the package.

7. Giving doses too close together

Follow the dosing schedule from your doctor or the package instructions. Don’t push doses close together or exceed the maximum amount of doses per day given on the label. Alternating between two medications isn’t recommended by the Indian Paediatric Association, as it can lead to overdosing errors.

8. Storing and measuring medicine incorrectly

Medicines require a cool and dry place for storage and most medicines should be kept in locked cabinets where children cannot get their hands on them easily. Emergencies from medicine storage can also occur when medicine bottles are reused for other medications and are not properly labelled. Now, for the measurement part, liquids often come with dosing instructions in milliliters (mL) as well as in teaspoon or tablespoon measurements. While you may prefer the familiarity of a spoon, using cutlery can lead to errors because they vary so much in size, and they can be awkward to use. Instead, measure your child’s liquid medicines in milliliters (mL) with an oral syringe or a medicine cup with clearly marked milliliter lines for precise doses.

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