I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I would pretend I could read long before I knew how to string letters together to create those magical words. One of my parents’ favorite pictures is of a potty-training me sitting atop my plastic throne perusing a book I clutched upside down in my chubby toddler hands. I understood their affection for that photo when my 4-year-old recreated it last week. She had accompanied me to an appointment and selected, of all things, a 200-page romance novel from the pile of magazines and children’s books, and began pouring over it, all the while holding it upside down.
At least she wasn’t naked from the waist down, though, amirite?!
Happily devouring books since 1982, yet I rarely succeed in reading a complete set of instructions. I’m not proud of my impatience, but alas, I am guilty. Whether putting together a piece of furniture or making a new recipe, my eyes tend to skim and scan the details until they find the end result, and once there, they trick my brain into filling in the rest. This is not only a completely inefficient way of doing things, but it’s stupid.
Why don’t I take the extra two minutes to read carefully, rather than mess up what I’m trying to do?! I ask myself that question every time I skip a step and ruin dinner, like I did last night.
*Waves to family* Sorry, guys, those stuffed peppers will be better next time!
When it comes to the Drug Facts label on medication, though, there’s too much at risk to be impatient and stupid. If I don’t read carefully and thoroughly, it could mean hurting myself or my kids.
So many of us regularly take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, be it to ease pain or joint relief, combat allergy or sinus pressure, or to weather the storm that is a child’s fever – but how often and how carefully are we really reading the Drug Facts label?
Since school is back in session, it’s only a matter of time until the students and teachers we live with bring home gross germs. Which means there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to ensure we’re ready to battle the blahs by educating ourselves. Do you know what to look for on the Drug Fact labels? I don’t. There are six sections to every label, and errrrthing on that bad boy is important. Let’s review:
So your kiddo is suffering from a double whammy: a bad head cold AND seasonal allergies. You might think giving him a cough & cold medicine plus an allergy medicine makes sense, but you could actually be double-dosing the drug diphenhydramine! Medications can have more than one active ingredient, and we’ve got to be careful not to administer the same thing twice. This can become tricky if you’re taking an OTC and a prescription med, so READ the Drug Fact labels to make sure you’re not taking too much of the same active ingredient.
Section 2: Uses
It goes without saying that if your child doesn’t have a fever, you don’t give him a medication intended for a fever. The Uses section tells us what symptoms and illnesses the medication is equipped to handle. Only use products that treat your child’s symptoms and be aware that most OTC meds do not cure illnesses, only subdue it.
Section 3: Warnings
Warnings are pretty self-explanatory: should you be taking this medcine? Should you ask your doctor before administering it to your kids? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, call your doctor to be sure. And, DUH, never, ever, EV-ER leave medicine within reach of a kid, and if he’s a climber, lock that sucker up! (the medicine, not the child). And despite their propensity to drive us into exhaustion, never give a child medicine just to make him sleepy. I love me a good nap as much as the next parent, but c’mon.
Section 4: Directions
READ ALL OF THE DIRECTIONS. Don’t be me and pretend you know what you’re doing. Read the dosing instructions, use the measuring device that comes with the medicine, and administer per the proper frequency. Cough and cold medications are labeled for children ages 4 and older- talk to your doctor if you have questions about this, don’t try to divide the dose with the age and weight and guesstimate how much medicine your 2-year-old can safely ingest. NO!
Section 5: Other Information
Does your med need to be stored in the refrigerator? Exactly. Read this section to find out.
Section 6: Inactive Ingredients
The term “inactive” gives the illusion that those ingredients are benign, when in actuality, the colors or flavoring listed in this section could trigger an allergic reaction. READ this section. READ every section!
If you are ever concerned that a child has ingested an OTC medication accidentally or incorrectly, call poison control immediately: 1-800-222-1222.
This post is sponsored by the CHPA educational foundation, KnowYourOTCs, but all opinions are my own.