All allergy medications are not created equal, especially when it comes to children. Children should only take children’s allergy medication, not a small dose of adult allergy medication – unless directed by a physician.
Children have different tolerances for medication doses and their systems are more sensitive to medication ingredients. As allergy season approaches, it’s important to know how to select over-the-counter (OTC) medications and how to safely and appropriately administer them.
What do different allergy medications do?
The first thing that is important to understand is what different over-the-counter (OTC) medication terms mean. How is an antihistamine different from a decongestant? Typically, the purpose of each is listed on the medications’ label and can help you to match the medication to your child’s symptoms.
Antihistamines: This group of medications stop sneezing and address runny noses.
Decongestants: These will address a stuffy nose and clear clogged breathing passages.
Cough suppressants: These medications will address a cough and help to suppress it.
Expectorants: These help to bring up phlegm and mucus in the lungs and airways so that you can move it up and out.
How do I know what dose to give?
If you are confused about the right dose of allergy medications for your child, you are not alone. According to a recent survey1 of parents in the U.S., one in five said it was difficult to figure out the right dose to give to their children.
Here is what you need to know. You should always give a child the dosage prescribed on the children’s allergy medication bottle. If you do not have any children’s allergy medication, do not guess on the appropriate dose of an adult allergy medication to give to your child.
While allergy meds may contain the same ingredients, the dosage is very different. Some of these medications can have serious side effects for children and may over-medicate them causing extreme drowsiness and headaches. Purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications specifically prepared for children or call your doctor before giving your child any type of adult allergy medication.
Do expiration dates matter?
Yes, they do. Medications become weaker after their expiration dates. The same survey mentioned above found that 18% of parents don’t check the expiration date before giving their child medication. Make sure that you do, and throw the medication away if it has expired.
Coping with a child’s allergies can be frustrating because the symptoms may seem to last forever. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and that means checking with your physician before giving them any over-the-counter (OTC) medication. You want to make sure that it does not contraindicate other medications your child may be taking, and that an appropriate dose will make them feel better not worse.
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