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Some suggestions for wise, safe use of medicine apply to all medicines. Your doctor and dentist must have complete information to prescribe drugs wisely for your child or any member of your family. Always give the following information to your physician, dentist, or other health-care professional:

Tell the important facts of your child's medical history dealing with medicines. Include allergic reactions, side effects, or adverse reactions your child has experienced in the past. Describe the allergic problems your child has, such as hay fever, asthma, eye watering and itching, throat irritation and reactions to food. Children who have allergies to common substances are more likely to develop side effects or adverse reactions to drugs.

List all prescription and non-prescription drugs. Don't forget common ones such as laxatives; vitamin or mineral supplements; skin, rectal or vaginal medicines; antacids; antihistamines; cold and cough remedies; aspirin and aspirin-containing pain pills; motion sickness remedies; weight-loss aids; salt and sugar substitutes; caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and cocoa); oral contraceptives; sleeping pills; or "tonics."


  • Generic names and brand names of all the medicines your child takes. Write them down to help you remember. If a drug is a mixture of two or more generic ingredients, learn the names of each.
  • Uses for each medicine your child takes.
  • How to take each medicine--for example, with or without water, or with food.
  • When to take the medicine.
  • What to do if your child forgets a dose.
  • How each drug works in your child's body.
  • Time lapse before the drug works.
  • Symptoms and treatment of overdose.
  • Possible adverse reactions and side effects and what to do if they occur.
  • Interactions with other drugs and other substances such as alcohol, food, beverages, cocaine, marijuana, and tobacco. When mixed with some medicines, these substances can sometimes cause life-threatening interactions in your child.
  • Know all warnings and precautions that apply to special circumstances, such as:
    1. Reasons not to take the drug in the presence of some medical conditions. These reasons are called contraindications.
    2. Special considerations for infants, children, and pregnant or breast-feeding women.
    3. Implications for prolonged use; exposure to sun and sunlight; driving; flying in airplanes; hazardous activities.
    4. Instructions before discontinuing the drug.


  • Before giving any prescribed medicine to a child, discuss with your doctor any plans for elective surgery or other problems.

  • Don't hesitate to ask questions about a drug. Your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist will be able to provide more information if they are familiar with you and your family's past medical history, especially regarding medicines.

  • Never give or take medicine in the dark! It is always possible to take the wrong one. Recheck the label each time you or your child use a drug.

  • Tell your doctor about any new or unexpected symptoms your child develops while taking medicine. You may need to change medicines or have a dose adjustment.

  • Store all medicines out of children's reach. Keep drugs in a cool, dry place, such as a kitchen cabinet or bedroom. Avoid medicine cabinets in bathrooms--they get too moist and warm at times. Keep medicine in its original container, tightly closed. Don't remove the label! If the directions call for refrigeration, keep the medicine cool but don't freeze it.

  • Don't save leftover oral or injectable medicine to use later. Discard it before or on the expiration date shown on the container. Dispose of it safely to protect children and pets.

  • Study any information you can find about the specific drugs your child takes. An excellent reference is Complete Guide to Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs, published by The Body Press, a division of Price Stern & Sloan, Inc.

  • Don't give your child any drug prescribed for someone else.

  • Prior to any surgery (including oral surgery or simple dental procedures), tell your doctor or dentist about all medicines your child takes or has taken in the past few weeks.
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