One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is that liquid antibiotic prescriptions never last as long as they’re supposed to. The reason this happens is because most antibiotics come in set amounts and pharmacists are not allowed to add extra to make sure patients do not run out early. To get around this policy, I calculate how much a child needs for a full-course of treatment and then prescribe the next larger size bottle. For example, if a child is taking 1 tsp of amoxicillin twice a day for ten days, he needs a 100 ml bottle. When I fill out the area on the prescription that says how much the pharmacist should dispense, I write 150 ml instead of “ten-day supply.” You can ask your doctor to do the same thing.
Parents frequently avoid giving their children fever medicine before a sick visit because they are afraid it will compromise the doctor’s medical evaluation. In reality, giving a child something to lower her fever before a visit usually makes it easier for doctors to determine what is going on. Fever medicine is not strong enough to mask symptoms, but has the potential to make a young child more cooperative during the visit. There is one caveat to this recommendation, however. NEVER give fever medicine to an infant less than 2 months of age because in this age group, doctors need to assess the baby before the fever is treated.
• Most serious reactions to foods happen away from home two reasons: (1) you don’t ask if a food item contains the substance your child is allergic to and/or (2) you don’t have epinephrine with you. If you have a child with food allergies, never leave home without your Epi-Pen or Twinject.
• Since manufacturers can change ingredients at any time, read product labels every time you go to the grocery store.
• Epinephrine loses its effectiveness if it’s kept in an environment that is either too hot or too cold. Never leave an epinephrine auto-injector in your car during the day.
• Not all ambulances are equipped with epinephrine. Therefore, if you call 911 for an allergic emergency, make sure they send a life-support unit.
• When your child’s Epi-Pen or Twinject expires, practice using the device on an orange or grapefruit. Although these devices come with trainers, it may make you more confident if you practice with the real thing.
• Bring expired epinephrine autoinjectors to your doctor’s office so they can be disposed of with medical waste.
• Buy (and read) a copy of Food Allergies for Dummies by Dr. Robert Wood, a national authority on food allergies.
• Become a member of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
If you take your child to the doctor because of a rash or skin condition, the doctor will often prescribe a cream or ointment. The instructions will state how often and how long you should apply the medication. Because we are a “throw-away” society, most parents toss the box when they get home and put the tube in a convenient location. If you do this, you will not only be throwing away the doctor’s instructions, but the box also contains the phone number for the pharmacy and whether the doctor gave you any refills. So the next time you get a tube of cream, remember to keep the box it came in.