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Pharmacist Advice

Cook Children's pharmacists are here to help you and your child feel better, so we're always happy to answer any questions you may have about your child's medications. Simply give us a call or email us, and we'll answer your concerns as quickly as possible.

In order to save you some time, we've gathered the questions that are asked most often, along with the answers, as well as some of the advice we offer the most, and have put them here:

Are over-the-counter medicines safe for kids?

Most OTC medicines offer effective relief. However, children are not small adults, therefore certain medications and dosages are not good for children. Even certain pediatric OTC medicines should be considered with care. Here are some things you should do before giving your child any medicine:

Read the label and all enclosed instructions. Follow the recommended dosage that comes with the medication exactly. It's not true that if a little dose is good for you a double dose will be better. Quite the contrary, this could cause way more harm than good.

Know the ingredients in the medication and how it might affect your child and/or any other medications they are taking, including OTC, prescription, vitamins, minerals and herbals. Active ingredients are the strongest. Some medications may have more than one active ingredient. While not always the case, it's usually better to give children medications with the fewest number of ingredients, including active ingredients.

Talk to the pharmacist before purchasing or giving your child any medication. The pediatric pharmacists at Cook Children's specialize in babies, kids, teens and young adults so they understand their unique needs. Plus, they will ask all the right questions to determine what symptoms the child has, what other medications they may be taking and can help you make safer, wiser choices in OTC medications.

How do I get my child to take their medicine?

Even grownups agree that liquid medicines can taste pretty bad. Getting a child to take bitter or strong-tasting medicine can be a real struggle. At Cook Children's Pharmacy, we have great flavors that can hide the "mediciny' taste to help make dose time easier. We can flavor both prescription and OTC liquid medicines, including pre-flavored medicines that have a taste your child doesn't like.

My child has a high-alert medication?

While very safe and effective, high-alert medications can cause serious injury if a mistake happens while taking them. Some medicines can be easily absorbed through the skin so extra precaution may be needed when handling them, like wearing gloves. Certain medications can build up in the blood stream if too much is given, causing symptoms of overdose. Improper storing can cause a chemical change in some types of drugs that can be harmful to the person taking them. When you have a prescription filled for a high-alert medication, your pharmacist will let you know this and instruct you in how to use it. You can also call our retail pharmacy if you have any questions or concerns and we'll be happy to help you.

What do I do for poisoning?

If you suspect your child has swallowed or even touched a poisonous product or may have taken medicine, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Can I use kitchen spoons to measure?

Many people think that a small kitchen spoon is the same as a teaspoon or that the larger soup spoon is the same as a tablespoon. They aren't. And using them to measure medication can be risky. Your child may be getting too much or too little. It is very important to use a medicine dispenser. They are accurately marked to assure both a safer dosage, and to make sure your child is getting enough of the medicine.

Does my child need to finish the medicine?

Yes, your child must finish all the medicine. There is a reason the doctor prescribed a certain amount, and that sometimes includes one or more refills. Every condition is different and requires differing treatment dosages and time. Often, when a child is taking medicine the initial symptoms will ease. But, if the course of treatment isn't complete, your child may not only relapse but the condition may become more resistant to treatment and could even cause secondary ailments.

Is there a right or wrong way to store?

Yes, there are both right and wrong ways to store medications. First and foremost is making sure that ALL MEDICATIONS are kept where small children can't reach them. It's also very important to follow the packaging instructions that come with your medication. If it says "refrigerate," then you must refrigerate. Medicines that say store in a cool, dry place must be stored in a cool, dry place. If the instructions say to avoid sunshine, by all means avoid sunshine. Not following storage instructions can change the chemical composition causing it to become less effective, or putting your child's health at risk.

What my child takes with medicine?

Certain foods and/or liquids can react with medicine causing discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Sometimes foods or liquids can also make a medicine less or more strong. Always follow the instructions given by your doctor exactly. If you are unsure, please ask your Cook Children's pharmacist or contact your doctor's office.

What if the dosage instructions are for adults?

Nearly 80 percent of medications sold in the United States don't include directions for use in children. Children absorb, metabolize and eliminate drugs differently than adults. That's why it's extremely important to follow medication directions given by your child's pediatrician or pharmacist.

Most doses are based on the child's weight. Know your child's current weight. Check the medication label. Some medications may not be safe for infants and toddlers. If you're not sure, check with your child's doctor or pharmacist before giving the medication.

Infant drops are stronger than syrup for toddlers and children. Use the dropper, syringe, medicine cup or dosing spoon that comes with the medication. Kitchen teaspoons or tablespoons are not the right size.

If you need to convert your child's medication, please use the following:

  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) = 5 milliliters (mL)
  • 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon = 15 milliliters (mL)

When in doubt, call your doctor's office or the Cook Children's Retail Pharmacy.

Questions to ask your pharmacist.

  • What is the name of this medication?
  • Why am I giving my child this medication? How is it going to help?
  • When and how should I give my child this medication?
  • For how long should I give my child this medication?
  • What if I forget to give my child this medication?
  • Should I give this medication with or without food? Should my child stay away from any foods?
  • Are there any side effects? What should I do if I notice any of these?
  • Are there any special instructions to follow when my child takes this medication?
  • Will this medication affect my child's other medications? What about over-the-counter medications?
  • What if I am breastfeeding or pregnant? Can my medications affect my child?
  • How should I store this medication?