Whether your child is sick, dealing with a fever, in some sort of pain, or suffering from a minor allergic reaction, your first instinct as a parent is to reach for the medicine cabinet and try to find something to relieve their discomfort. However, do you know exactly what you are giving your child in their moment of distress?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. It helps relieve mild to moderate pain caused by colds, headaches, arthritis, and sore throats.

However, taking acetaminophen in excess can cause difficulty to swallow and breathe for a child. Additionally, it contains:

  • Parabens, which can cause breast cancer;
  • food dye blue #1, which aggravates asthma;
  • food dye red #40, which can lead to hyperactivity;
  • high fructose corn syrup, which that has been linked to multiple conditions, and;
  • sodium benzoate, which leads to increased hyperactivity when mixed with food dyes.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Under the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug umbrella, ibuprofen helps with inflammation, pain, and fevers.

Much like acetaminophen products, ibuprofen products often contain dyes. In particular, both Children’s Motrin and Advil contain sodium benzoate. It is a controversial artificial sweetener that some believe is possibly linked to cancer and disruptions in the metabolic process, blood sugar control, and body weight.

Children’s Benadryl

Allergic reactions can be a scary thing for both parents and kids alike. Many tend to reach for Children’s Benadryl to help relieve these symptoms.

The product’s active ingredient is diphenhydramine hydrochloride. While the name of the antihistamine itself may seem daunting, so are some of the conditions it is linked to. This includes:

  • Low blood pressure;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Blurred/double vision;
  • Confusion, and;
  • Loss of appetite.

Moreover, Benadryl contains saccharin sodium and sorbitol. In excess, sorbitol can cause dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or nausea.

What To Know Before Giving Your Child Over-The-Counter Medication

Read the Label

Always read the label before administering any type of over-the-counter medicine to your child. Ensure to follow the instructions and correct dosage amounts on the side of the bottle. Plus, make sure to follow the weight and age recommendations on the chart provided.

Dosage timing should also be reviewed and followed, strictly.

No Adult Medication

Never give your child any dose of adult medication. Always ensure the medication you offer them is specifically for kids.

Check the Active Ingredients

Check “active ingredients” on the medication’s label. These ingredients are what makes the medicine “work”.

Using two medicines with similar or the same active ingredients might mean your child is getting too much, which isn’t good.

Talk to Your Doctor

Chat with your family physician before giving over-the-counter medicine to a baby six months or younger suffering from a fever. The only exception is for babies that just had their immunization shots. This is because a fever may indicate a serious illness, so they should be checked out before given anything.

Also, babies six months or younger should not be given ibuprofen until given the “ok” by a doctor.

Check the Expiration Dates

Check expiration dates on medicine to ensure the product is not expired. If it has, throw the bottle out, head to the store, and purchase a new product.

Don’t Mix Medicine

Ensure your child is not taking a mix of certain medicines at the same time. For instance, if you have given them a dosage of ibuprofen, do not to offer any other cold, cough, or allergy medicines as well. Many of these have the same active ingredient within them.

If you aren’t sure, talk to your family doctor or pharmacists.

Don’t Force It

Should your child spit up the dose of medication without swallowing it, have them calm down before offering it again. If your child swallows the medication and then throws it up later, refrain from a second dosage until the time period to give another dose has come.

A Variety of Flavors

Medications come in so many different flavors nowadays. So, if there is one that your child doesn’t prefer, you can always try another flavor or product at another time.

Dye-Free Medicines

Think about reaching for dye-free medicines since there are many available nowadays.

Make Sure You Are Informed

At the end of the day, no one likes it when their child has a fever, is feeling sick, or experiences discomfort. With that said, there are plenty of natural methods to help with differing conditions, so it’s important to do your research and try to offer alternatives prior to giving your kids medication.

It’s equally as important to talk to your family physician about options — both organic remedies and over-the-counter medications. They can give you the advice and counsel you need around what would work best for you and your family.