Over-the-Counter Medication and Children

There are many over-the-counter medications that are made to reduce symptoms such as fever, pain and stuffy noses.  Parents and caregivers need to be cautious as they are often not recommended or safe for your children. Here are some things to consider.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®) can be used to reduce your child’s aches and pains from fever and illness. How much you give is based on your child’s age and weight. Follow the medicine’s directions for how much and how often you can give the medicine to your child.
    • Doctors are recommending to avoid using ibuprofen at this time due to the COVID-19 outbreak (Advil®, Motrin®). 
    • If your child is dehydrated, vomiting or has diarrhea do not give ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) because it can harm the kidneys.
  • Do not give your child
    • Acetylsalicylic Acid (ASA, Aspirin®) because it can cause a rare and dangerous disease called Reye’s Syndrome.
    • Medicines that stop or reduce coughing (cough suppressants).  
    • If your child is less than 6 years old do not give any over-the-counter cough and cold medicines unless prescribed by your doctor.
  • Medicated nose drops or sprays should not be used in children less than 6 years of age. In older children they should not be used for more than 2 to 3 days because nose congestion can actually get worse.
  • For congestion consider using a saline spray and suction for babies and young children.

Safety Tips:

  • If your child is taking two or more medications, whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter, check with your pharmacist to make sure it is safe.
  • To avoid giving your child too much medication:
    • Use only the measuring syringe or cup that comes with the medicine. Kitchen spoons are not all the same and can cause overdosing.
    • Make a note of how much medicine you gave your child and the time that you gave it. Your calendar or phone works great for this.
    • Write clear instructions for other caregivers about your child’s medicine. (What medicine, how much was given and when and the time of the next dose required).
  • To keep your kids safe:

Call your local pharmacist or Health Links-Info Santé (Winnipeg 204-788-8200, toll-free 1-888-315-9257) for more information.