The holidays are a time for traditions, togetherness, and celebrations unless you’re sick and then they’re just downright miserable. Colder weather, recycled air in airplanes, germy surfaces in public places, and the abundant number of hugs given at family get togethers, neighborhood open houses, and office parties can all contribute to seasonal symptoms but even more so when we’re run down with all the pre-holiday prep that goes on at this time of year.
Through my experience working as an #OTCSafety ambassador for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and OTCSafety.org, I’ve learned a lot about over the counter medicine safety and tips that have helped to keep my family healthier. Here are five key things (with some of my favorite infographs from the campaigns!) that you should know to help keep your family healthy over the holidays and into the New Year to make the most of your time together and enjoy the celebrations ahead.
1. Store medicines up and away. Perhaps your family’s medicines are stored well out of reach of your children but holiday houseguests might not be so careful. Since kids can find medicine in a purse, on the floor, in a dresser or nightstand, and in a pill box or cabinet, it’s important to gently remind guests to store their medicine out of reach of small hands to ensure that everyone stays safe over the holidays. After all, a trip to the ER puts a damper on the festivities rather quickly! For more information on how to store medicine safely, statistics, and helping houseguests remember to take medicine when it’s stored safely away, visit the post I wrote for National Safety Month called Did you remember to put #MedsUpAway? OTCSafety.org also has different resources on safe storage tips that you can provide to guests.
2. Know the difference between allergies and a cold to help your kids feel better faster. Did you know that allergy symptoms are triggered when the seasons change? As we move from fall to winter, it’s quite possible that the cold-like symptoms your kids are exhibiting are really allergies. The active ingredients in cold and allergy medicines treat different symptoms to provide relief. Consult OTCSafety.org’s page on allergy medicines to read up on how allergy medicines work to be a knowledgeable consumer.
3. When kids get sick, make sure you give them the medicine that will treat their symptoms. OTCSafety.org has lots of resources for parents on medicine and medicine safety, like posts such as Giving Medicine to Children, that serve as a great resource to parents with sick kids who just want them to feel better. Also make it easier on yourself! Chances are that your child will feel the worst in the middle of the night and you’ll be groggy when trying to provide them with relief. Store medicine up and away but with proper dosing devices nearby so you won’t be fumbling around to find what you need for your sick child.
4. Know how to administer medicine safely, especially if they’re running a fever with the flu. Changes to acetaminophen and new dosing devices make it easier for parents to safely administer acetaminophen to their children. Here are five additional tips to ensure you’re giving your children medicine in a safe way:
- Before giving your child any medicines, make sure you know your child’s weight. Dosing is most accurate when it is based on weight, not age.
- Make sure to read the package label very carefully for proper dosing.
- Acetaminophen is most commonly administered at a dose of 10 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg every four hours; whereas, ibuprofen is usually administered at a dose of 10 mg/kg every six hours.
- Always use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. Do not mix and match dosing devices.
- You can safely alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen to fight fever but check with your pediatrician about alternating for persistent high fevers.
5. Traveling? You can survive without sedating your kids! Our kids are champion travelers having taken many cross country flights to visit grandparents who live on the West Coast, a 14 hour trip to China last summer, and most recently an 11 hour flight to Hawaii for Thanksgiving. They’ve been traveling since they were infants and we’ve never sedated them. Sure, 18% of parents admit to doing so but there are many other ways to survive a trip that don’t involve the use of cough, cold, or allergy medicines. If you need suggestions about how to survive, read my 7 Ways to Survive Family Travel without Sedating Your Kid. They’re all tried and true methods that come from personal experience!