Dosing Tips for Taking Medicines
Whether you are treating your own symptoms, those of a family member, or someone for whom you have been tasked with caring, it is important to have a basic knowledge of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine safety. Millions turn to OTC medicines when treating their family’s symptoms and it is important to do so safely.
When given as directed, OTC medicines help treat symptoms, but like all medicines, they have risks if misused. Below are some general tips to consider when using OTC medicines.
General Dosing Tips for Taking Medicines
- Always read and follow medicine labels exactly to ensure safe and appropriate dosing.
- Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device. Never use longer than the label instructs or at higher doses, unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so.
- Only use the medicine that treats your specific symptoms.
- Never take two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
- Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if you develop any side effects or reactions that concern you.
- Consult a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider with any questions.
Additional Tips for Giving Medicines to Children
- Learn about the recent dosing changes to children's and infants' liquid acetaminophen here.
- Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
- Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
- Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
- Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
- Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four.
- Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
- Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
- Keep all medicines out of your child’s reach and sight.
- To learn more, you can watch our video on children and medicine safety here.
Additional Tips for Pregnant and Nursing Moms
- Discuss taking any medicines during your pregnancy with your doctor. When breastfeeding, always ask your healthcare professional before taking any medication.
- Do not take certain pain relievers during the last three months of your pregnancy, since they may cause problems in your unborn child or complications during delivery.
- For more information, watch our video on OTC medicine safety for pregnant and nursing moms.
Additional Tips for Seniors
- Never take more than one medicine with the same active ingredient unless specifically told to do so by your doctor.
- Choose products that treat only the symptoms you have, so you take only the active ingredients you need.
- Keep a medication record and bring that record with you when you visit a healthcare professional or when you go to the pharmacy.
Know Your Dose
The CHPA Educational Foundation is a proud member of the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition whose goal is to educate patients and consumers on how to appropriately use medicines that contain acetaminophen. Visit the coalition’s website, KnowYourDose.org, to view a list of common medicines that contain acetaminophen, get tips on reading your over-the-counter and prescription labels and order free educational materials on how to appropriately use medicines that contain acetaminophen.
If you ever have questions on your health or the health of a family member, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider.