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.

In Other News...

Public Meeting to Discuss Alternatives for Road Improvements Set for Tuesday

OWENSBORO, Ky. (7/4/15) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has scheduled a public information meeting to discuss… Read More

Hopkins Ham Radio Operators Link to World

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (7/4/15) — Today’s communication methods are nothing new to seasoned ham radio operators, who have… Read More
1 DOW 17,730.11
-27.80 (-0.16%)    
2 S&P 2,076.78
-0.64 (-0.03%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,009.21
0.00 (0.00%)    

Most Read This Week

July 02, 2015 14939

Emergency Response Team on Scene of Standoff on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 02, 2015 7364

Police: Stand Off Suspect in Critical Condition

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
June 29, 2015 5580

UPDATE: Victim of Home Invasion/Homicide Died of…

by SurfKY News
June 29, 2015 4296

Accused Synthetic Marijuana Traffickers Appear in…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
June 29, 2015 3585

Alleged Breast Display Ends in Domestic Assault…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

June 24, 2015 45522

Western Kentucky, Southern Indiana's Largest…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 02, 2015 14939

Emergency Response Team on Scene of Standoff on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

July 04, 2015 1343

Happenings and Meetings – Hopkins County

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 04, 2015 1179

Heavy Rains Flood Streets Around Town

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 04, 2015 812

Kentucky Sees Sharp Rise in Newborn…

by Al Cross
July 04, 2015 812

Recycling Equals Fun During iRecycling Regatta

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 05, 2015 711

More Dental Patients Using ER in Kentucky

by Al Cross
July 04, 2015 678

Tips for a Safe, Healthy Summer Enjoying…

by Dick Brown
July 04, 2015 627

Annual Fireworks Display Heralds in Fourth of…

by Mike Groves, SurfKY News
July 04, 2015 588

KDA Marketing Chief Tells Panel Kentucky Proud…

by Ted Sloan
July 04, 2015 578

Kentucky's Drinking Water Annual Report Shows…

by Lanny Brannock
July 04, 2015 575

Keeping the Faith - 'Safer among the Christian…

by Ronnie McBrayer