Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Know Active Ingredients in Children's Meds

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

© Copyright 2014 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 by using one of the social media links below.

button coupons
button classifieds

Most Read This Week

December 14, 2014 8014

Muhlenberg Pays Homage to U.S. Armed Forces

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 16, 2014 7884

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 12, 2014 7522

Man Allegedly Threatening Medical Staff with…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Wes Miller
December 15, 2014 4431

Hopkins County Woman Charged Second Time in Two…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 11, 2014 4430

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 12, 2014 4254

Man Allegedly Hits Brother with Pickup Truck…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Wesley Miller
December 15, 2014 4105

Woman Leads Police on High-Speed Chase in Stolen…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police
December 11, 2014 3936

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Dec. 11, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
December 12, 2014 3685

Man Accused of Public Intoxication, Stealing…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 15, 2014 3049

Vehicle Careens down 150 Foot Embankment with…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

December 16, 2014 7884

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 16, 2014 2098

Highway Crews Pre-Treating Roadways for Potential…

in Hopkins News by Keith Todd
December 16, 2014 2054

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Dec. 16, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
December 15, 2014 2025

Rich Brings Old, New Together in New Album

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 16, 2014 1953

Muhlenberg Community Hospital Installs Biometric…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Erin Warren
December 15, 2014 1830

Dawson Springs Police Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Melissa Heflin
December 16, 2014 1801

KFWC Proposes 2015-2016 Deer Season Dates and…

in General News For All Sites by Department of Fish and Wildlife
December 16, 2014 1694

Galloway, Director of Provider Services MCH,…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Karen Robinson
December 16, 2014 1684

MCH Auxiliary Donates $16,000 for the Renovation…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Erin Warren
December 16, 2014 1352

Hopkins County Joint Planning Commission 2015…

in Hopkins News by Cindy Young

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss