Kids grow up fast. As they do, we teach them as much as we can about safety. Hi, I’m Benjamin Ortiz. I’m a dad and a pediatrician at FDA. One of the things kids will eventually need to know is how to use medicines safely. They’re usually ready to begin learning this when they’re about 11 or 12 years old. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to take medicine on their own. Even older kids should only use medicine under adult supervision. When they are ready, start by teaching them how to read medicine labels. For prescription medicines, help your child understand that it’s important to use the medicine exactly as directed, like how much to take and when to take it. For example, some medicines must be taken with food. Others at bedtime. For over the counter medicine, read the Drug Facts label together, and explain the information that helps you choose the right medicine and explains how to use it safely. Be sure to point out the ingredients and explain that taking more than one medicine at a time can be very dangerous, because two different medicines may contain some of the same ingredients.
If taken together, the medicines might not work, or could even cause an overdose. For liquid medicines, show your pre-teen how to measure the correct dose by using the measuring tool that came with the medicine. This tool may be a special cup, spoon or syringe. Explain that other tools that are not meant for medicine, like spoons for cooking and eating, could give a dose that is too high or too low. For more tips on teaching older kids about medicine safety, visit fda.gov/medsinmyhome.
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