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How do I select the appropriate dose of OTC medicine for my child?

To select the appropriate dose of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for your child, check the label. Most OTC bottles have the appropriate dosing listed on the label. These are proven-safe recommendations. However, for very young children, the dosage recommendation may be to ask a doctor because the dose needs to be calculated based on the weight of the child.
To select the appropriate dose of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for your child, read and follow the directions on the Drug Facts label carefully. Dosing varies from product to product -- and the directions sometimes change over time. It's important to read the dosing directions for each medicine each time you administer it. Carefully read any instructions regarding age or weight, as well as the recommended dose and unit of measurement. The label may direct you to "ask a doctor" about whether the medicine is appropriate for the age or weight of your child. If so, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

After you've determined the dose, use only the dosing device that was included with that medicine to measure and administer the medication to your child. Many OTC syringes or droppers may appear the same, but they are not interchangeable. The device included with the medicine is customized. Never use household measurement tools, such as teaspoons or kitchen spoons.

If your child seems very sick, you may think it will help to give more medicine, but it won't help -- and, in fact, it is potentially harmful. More medicine means more potential side effects. Instead, follow the label and give the exact dose at the times the label says. If you have any concerns, call a healthcare professional.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.