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Friday, November 24, 2017

GIVING MEDICINES TO CHILDREN WITHOUT MISTAKES

Chief Author – David Werner
Contributors – Carol Thumen, Jane Maxwell, Andrew Pearson and Muoka Chibuzor


WarningThe information in this article is meant to help out in the absence of qualified personnel such as Medical Doctors and Pharmacists. It is not in any way intend to replace professional health assistance.
Firstly, people should be acquainted with how to measure medicines out. They must also make it a habit or a point of duty to always read the drug manufacturers instruction and adhere to it before administering medicines to little children. Such ethical behaviour would eradicate the possibility of drug overdose or underdose. 
Drugs and Fractions
Generally, the smaller the child, the lesser medicine he needs. This is because the drug metabolic capacity of a maturing little child cannot be compared with that of a matured adult. The same way the immunity of a child cannot be compared with that of an adult. This means that drugs bought in larger quantity must be split into little fractions so that the child that the drug is being administered to will not suffer from drug overdose.

How fractions are sometimes written
1 tablet = one whole tablet
½ tablet = half of one tablet
1½tablet = one and one-half tablets
¼tablet = one quarter or one-fourth of one tablet
⅛tablet = one eight of a tablet (diving it into 8 pieces and taking 1 piece)

Measuring Medicines in Solid form
Medicine is usually weighed in grams (gm.) and milligrams (mg.).
1000 mg. = 1 gm. (one thousand milligrams make one gram)
1mg. = 001gm. (one milligram is one-thousandth part of a gram)



Examples:
Using Aspirin (NSAID) as an example:
If you have an Aspirin tablet of 300mg and the dosage instruction says give 75mg of aspirin to the child, you would have to split the 300mg of aspirin into four places, each of the fragment represents 75mg, therefore one of the four is being given to the child.

CAUTION: many medicines, especially the antibiotics, come in different weights and sizes. For example, tetracycline may come in 3 sizes of capsules (250mg, 100mg, 50mg). Be careful to only give medicine in the recommended amounts. It is very important to check how many grams or milligrams the medicine contains.

Measuring Medicines in Liquid form
Syrups, suspensions, tonics, and other liquid medicines are measured in millilitres:
mL = milliliter                          
1 liter =1000ml
often liquid medicines are prescribed in tablespoon or teaspoons:
1 teaspoon (tsp.) = 5ml
1 tablespoon (Tbs.) = 15ml
When instructions for medicine say: Take 1 tsp., this means take 5ml
Many of the ‘teaspoons’ people use hold as much as 8ml. or as little as 3ml. when using a teaspoon to give medicine, it is important that it measures 5ml. – No more. No less.

How to make sure that the teaspoon used for medicine measures 5ml.
1. Buy a 5ml measuring spoon. Or
2. Buy a medicine that comes with a plastic spoon. This measures 5ml. when it is full and may also have a line that shows when it is half full (2.5ml). save this spoon and use it to measure other medicines. Or
3. Fill any small spoon that you have at home with 5ml. of water, using a syringe or something else to measure, and make a mark on the spoon at the level of the liquid. 

Many medicines that come as pills or capsules also come in syrups or suspensions (special liquid form) for children.  If you compare the amount of medicine you get, the syrups are usually more expensive than pills or capsules.  You can save money by making your own syrup in the following way:

1. Get the tablet or capsule medication.
2. Get a spoon.
3. If the drug is a tablet, break out the need amount and grind it into powder in the spoon. If the drug is a capsule, open the capsule to release the powder content into the spoon.
4.Mix the powder with boiled water (that has cooled).
5. Add Sugar or Honey (you must add lots of honey or sugar when the medicine is very bitter e.g., tetracycline or chloroquine).
When making syrups for children from pills or capsules, be very careful not to give too much medicine

CAUTION: To prevent choking, do not give medicines to a child while she is lying on her back, or if the head is pressed back.  Always make sure she is sitting up or that the head is tilted forwards.  Never give medicine by mouth to a child while she is having a fit, or while she is asleep or unconscious.

HOW MUCH MEDICINE SHOULD YOU GIVE TO CHILDREN WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR ADULTS?
Recall that the smaller the child, the less medicine he needs. Giving more than needed can be dangerous. If you have information about the doses for children, follow it carefully. If you do not know the dose, figure it out by using the weight or age of the child. Children should generally be given the following portions of the adult dose:
1 Kilogram (Kg.) = 2.2 Pounds (Ib.)

a. Adults given 1 dose
b. Children 8 to 13 years: ½ dose
c. Children 4 to 7 years: ¼ dose
d. Children 1 to 3 years: dose
e. Give a child under 1-year-old the dose for a child of 1year, but ask medical advice when possible.
Keep All Drugs Away from Children



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