drug facts 300WASHINGTON, D.C. (3/16/13) – If your child is sneezing up a storm, it must be allergy season once more.
 
And if your child is taking more than one medication at the same time, there could be dangerous health consequences if those medicines have the same active ingredient, according to Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
 
A medicine is made of many components. Some are "inactive" and only help it to taste better or dissolve faster, while others are active. An active ingredient in a medicine is the component that makes it pharmaceutically active—it makes the medicine effective against the illness or condition it is treating.
 
Active ingredients are listed first on a medicine's Drug Facts label for over-the-counter (OTC) products. For prescription medicines, they are listed in a patient package insert or consumer information sheet provided by the pharmacist.
 
Many medicines have just one active ingredient. But combination medicines, such as those for allergy, cough, or fever and congestion, may have more than one.
 
Take antihistamines taken for allergies. "Too much antihistamine can cause sedation and—paradoxically—agitation. In rare cases, it can cause breathing problems, including decreased oxygen or increased carbon dioxide in the blood, Sachs says.
 
"We're just starting allergy season," says Sachs. "Many parents may be giving their children at least one product with an antihistamine in it." Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines (with brand name examples) include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
 
But parents may also be treating their children for a separate ailment, such as a cough or cold. What they need to realize is that more than one combination medicine may be one too many.
 
"It's important not to inadvertently give your child a double dose," Sachs says.
 
The same goes for other active ingredients, often found in combination products for allergies but also used to treat other symptoms, such as fever, headache or nasal congestion:
 
Acetaminophen (in Tylenol and many other products), a pain reliever often used to treat fevers, mild pain or headache. Taking too much can cause liver damage.
 
Ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin), another common medicine for relieving mild to moderate pain from headaches, sinus pressure, muscle aches and flu, as well as to reduce fever. Too much ibuprofen can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain, even kidney failure.
 
Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (found in brand name drugs such as Actifed and Sudafed) taken in large amounts can cause excessive drowsiness in children. They can also cause heart rhythm disturbances, especially if combined with products and foods containing caffeine. In the form of nasal sprays and nose drops, these products, as well as oxymetazoline (the active ingredients in products such as Afrin), can cause "rebound" congestion, in which the nose remains stuffy or gets even worse.
 
Any of the above symptoms may indicate a need for immediate medical attention. "The bottom line is that neither you, nor your children, should take multiple combination medicines at the same time without checking the active ingredients and consulting your health care professional first," recommends Sachs.
 
Furthermore, two different active ingredients may serve the same purpose, Sachs says. For example, both acetaminophen and ibuprofen help reduce pain and fever. So there's generally no need to give your child both medicines for the same symptoms.
 
Whether you're treating your child's condition with OTC medicines from the drug store or ones prescribed by your doctor, it's essential that you keep track of every medicine and the active ingredients each contains, Sachs says.
 
"It's easy to forget which medicines you're giving your child," Sachs says. "And if you have more than one child, it can get even more complicated." She recommends making it a habit to write down the name of any medicine you give your child, whether it's OTC or prescription (download a daily medicine records template).
 
"It's really a good idea to carry that list with you when you go to see your pediatrician or even when you go to the pharmacy," she adds. You should also note whatever vitamins or supplements your child is taking, as these can interact unfavorably with certain medicines, too.
 
Most importantly, Sachs says parents should always read the Drug Facts label on OTC products, and the patient package insert or consumer information sheet that comes with prescription medicines, every time they're considering a medication for their child, even if they think they already know the ingredients. They should know that the ingredients can change without an obvious change in the packaging. And they should contact their health care professional with any questions.
 
SurfKY News
Information provided by the Food and Drug Administration
Photo provided by the FDA

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

Weather Sponsored by

1 DOW 16,374.76
+23.38 (0.14%)    
2 S&P 1,951.13
+2.27 (0.12%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,733.50
-16.48 (-0.35%)    

Stock Report Sponsored by

In Other News...

City of Owensboro's Labor Day Schedule

OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/2/15) — City Hall, Owensboro Transit System and Parks Administration will be closed for the Labor Day… Read More

Audubon-Bon Harbor Area Alliance to Host Neighborhood Picnic

OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/2/15) — The Audubon-Bon Harbor Neighborhood Alliance will host a neighborhood picnic from 11 a.m. to… Read More

Most Read This Week

August 31, 2015 6796

Man Convicted of Hopkins Countian's Death Granted…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 6026

Madisonville Gaining Two New Businesses

by Ron Sanders
August 30, 2015 3990

UPDATED: 'He Fought the Law ... but, the Law Won'

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 3191

Investigation Leads to Meth Trafficking Charge

by SurfKY News
August 29, 2015 2683

Kentucky State Park Camping Deal Offered in…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

August 06, 2015 19540

Muhlenberg Woman Reportedly Suffers Violent…

by SurfKY News
August 24, 2015 12217

Teen Reports Slasher Attempted to Attack Him on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

September 02, 2015 6026

Madisonville Gaining Two New Businesses

by Ron Sanders
September 02, 2015 3191

Investigation Leads to Meth Trafficking Charge

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 2546

UPDATE: Missing Teen Located

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 2395

Woman Allegedly Passed Out at Wheel Charged with…

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1963

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - September 2, 2015

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1266

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1200

Gov. Beshear's Statement on County Clerks,…

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1151

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1058

GPD Conducting Safety Checkpoints

by SurfKY News
September 02, 2015 1053

Blood Drive Boosts Blood Bank Deposits

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News