Dose of the right advice
Helen O’Callaghan reports on a new campaign by the IPU
YOUR one-year-old has a fever and is due a dose of medicine, but he’s asleep. Should you wake him? Your child is vomiting, which is best: Calpol or Nurofen?
These kinds of medical conundrums can be difficult for parents trying to manage their sick child’s symptoms. For this reason, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has launched a campaign urging parents to seek advice from pharmacists about their child’s health and to avoid common, potentially serious medicine mistakes.
A key responsibility for pharmacists is ensuring medicines are being safely administered, says IPU president Daragh Connolly. “When it comes to children and babies this is even more important, as guidelines vary depending on age and weight,” he says. “Most parents don’t know their child’s weight — yet there can be big variations even between children born on the same day.
Connolly says wellmeaning parents, anxious to help a sick child, can make mistakes in providing medications. He cites common errors such as: Wrong dose Medicine dose varies depending on child’s age/weight. Even for common medications like paracetamol or ibuprofen, this can be confusing. Too little medication can be ineffective, too much harmful. Your pharmacist will advise on correct dosage for child. Wrong time Accidentally repeating a dose/providing medications too close together is common. Parents should read medication label and record time of each dose. Wrong medicine Many parents offer medicine that’s ineffective for specific ailments, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for cough or blocked nose. “In absence of pain or fever, this isn’t recommended — ask your pharmacist to recommend more effective medication,” says Connolly. Wrong place Not all ailments are best treated with oral medication — eye drops/creams/nasal sprays may be more effective for specific conditions. It can be difficult to assess accurately — again, pharmacist can help. “Parents can be reluctant to use suppositories, yet they’re good if you don’t want to waken a small child to administer medicine or if your child’s vomiting,” says Connolly.
The IPU warns parents to never give children medication intended for an adult, and “only provide prescription medications to the intended recipient”.
Download IPU’s handy leaflet for parents on managing most common childhood ailments, including advice on medicine safety at ipu.ie
LISTEN UP: Darragh O’Loughlin, CEO of the Irish Pharmacy Union, with Thomas Whelan and Hannah Whelan.