Cough and Cold Medication

Do Your Cough and Cold Medicines Measure Up?

Take an extra second to make sure you are correctly administering medications to your children.

Give your child the gift of health in one practical way – pediatric measuring spoons.

On October 11, 2007, multi-symptom cough and cold medications aimed at children under the age of two years were voluntarily pulled from the shelves by U.S. drug companies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with other health groups and organizations warned that misuse of cold and cough medicines could lead to overdosing.

Fred Mohrbacher, RPh, staff pharmacist at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, explains that these recalls came about because of problems with parents administering these medicines. “Pediatric pharmacists prescribe medications in milliliters, and many over-the-counter drug labels instruct measuring in teaspoons,” he says. “Because tableware spoons vary in sizes, you may not be giving your child the correct dosage, and that could mean your child won’t get the same amount of medicine as before. This can lead to dangerous side effects, including high fever, nervousness and extreme drowsiness.”

Your pharmacist can provide you with a calibrated dosing spoon or a Baxa syringe. A Baxa syringe does not have a needle and fits on the medicine bottle to measure liquid medications for doses as small as 0.1 ml, to help dispense the correct amount for your child. Mr. Mohrbacher also recommends that all recalled medications be destroyed and disposed of properly. Medication labels should be read carefully and parents should immediately contact their child’s pediatrician or pediatric pharmacist if unusual symptoms arise.

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