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Parents should give medicine cautiously.

Well-meaning parents often give sick children medicine when they don,t need it and unwittingly can endanger their offspring by not following directions when prescription medicine is required, maintains Carole Stone, assistant professor of nursing, The Catholic University of America. Conditioned by the media and the health care field, they often ask their doctors for medication at the first sign of their child's cold or other minor illness. "Parents have been taught to expect a medicine for everything, and, oftentimes, medicine is inappropriate and may even impede getting better."

Even some physicians and health clinics respond too quickly with medication. As a result, overuse of prescription medicine has led to the development of germs that are immune to antibiotics.

Over-the-counter medication also can be unnecessary. The message is ... that theres a remedy for everything," Stone says. "A parent goes to the drugstore and there's row after row of decongestants, syrups, and drops. Most of it is totally unnecessary in terms of managing a cold."

Rest and fluids, nasal cleaning with tissues or bulb syringe, and handwashing usually are the best ways to manage a cold. If a fever is high, a pain reliever may reduce temperature. When medications are called for, follow these safety principles, Stone advises: * Never give medicine prescribed for one child to another child. * Throw away medications after their expiration date. * Follow prescribed dosages faithfully. Special dispensers available at the drugstore can help you measure dosages more carefully. If the directions say give the medicine until it is gone, do so. "A child can begin to feel better before the illness is resolved and the infection may come back," Stone cautions. * Ask your physician about when to give the medication. "If it's to be given two times a day, every l2 hours, it's important that it's given as close to that time as possible. The medicine's effectiveness depends on how long it stays in the blood." * When administering medicine to children, use an approach that is appropriate for their age. When a medicine tastes unpleasant, it is all right to mask the taste by combining it with food or drink, but do not mix it with a food essential to baby's diet, such as milk, because the child may refuse that food later. "You can put the medicine in a nipple, hold the child close, and allow him to suck the medicine, and then follow it with juice or water."

For toddlers, a firm but matter-of-fact fact approach works best."Be positive about it and try to make a little game of it. Never tell the child the medicine is candy or a treat." * If the medicine tastes bad, be truthful about it. Pre-schoolers and older children can understand why they need medicine when they are ill. "At this age, it's helpful to use therapeutic play. Use a doll or a favorite stuffed animal, have them be sick, too, and show the child how the medicine will make their doll better." After the child takes the medicine, praise him or her enthusiastically. "It's important to children to have a sense of control. Make it seem to be their choice to take this step toward getting better."
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Title Annotation:guidelines for avoiding overuse of medications for children and other dangers
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 1, 1996
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