A Spoonful of Sugar helps the Medicine go down!

The best thing about advice is listening to it. In my job, I am usually the one doling out advice to patients as to how best to take their medicine. That said, the best advice I ever got on how to teach patients the most effective methods to take the stuff, was from listening to the patients themselves. 

I am on an eternal learning curve as I come across more and more people who share their medicine stories with me. I have to admit, in 90% of the cases, there is no faulting their logic. The other 10% is a story for another day! The feedback and experiences make me better at what I do, as I can help others more effectively. My own Mum and my Mother-in-Law are a good source of advice to me particularly when it comes to the task of administering medication to children.

As a father myself, if feels like I am on a crash course in children’s health at home. We have run the gauntlet of colic, nappy rash, reflux, teething, chickenpox, asthma, herpes simplex infection, eczema, bowel obstructions, and constipation – and they are only the ones that I can remember!

We got through it all, thanks to my wife, and her unofficial (and brilliant) tips for administering medicine.

  • For Calpol/Nurofen, use a medicine syringe for young children – less than two. This ensures the measured dose goes where it’s supposed to and not all over you and baby. It also takes the worry out of giving it, as there is no guess work.
  • Use a notepad to record the time, the does, the medication and the temperature if the child has a fever. For example: 9am 5mls Nurofen 38.5C. This is a useful way to track the doses for yourself, but if you need to bring the child to the doctor or hospital, you have a record of what you have administered and if there is a pattern to their symptoms.
  • If a dose has to be given during the night, have it pre-measured and ready before you go to bed. This saves fumbling around in the middle of the night trying to measure out Calpol or Nurofen with a screaming child in your arms. If you don’t use them, just throw them out in the morning.
  • Antibiotics such as Augmentin Duo or Klacid don’t taste very nice, and this can become a nightmare trying to get children to take it. Have a little drink of juice or milk on standby and give it to the child straight after the medicine. It will kill the off-putting taste. I share this tip with everyone when I administer antibiotics. It has worked a treat at home.

If you have any tips you would like to share, please let me know and I will include them in a future blog.

I’d like to share this photo I came across while researching the blog. From the photo, it can be gleaned the antibiotic needs to be taken twice daily for ten days. This clever Mum or Dad has drawn in a box with the start day and end day. X marks the spot as each dose is given, leaving no room for error, giving a clear idea when the next dose is due and when the course is complete. Of course with tablets if you forget you can count them – knowing if you have missed a dose: that’s not so easy to do with liquids. I love this idea, and if the bottle is too small, just do it on the box instead.

A Spoonful of Sugar helps the Medicine go down!

We are working on companion pet healthcare in the Pharmacy at the moment. It’s a new area and I am really enjoying the training. I am a pet lover, but even I was surprised to discover just how important pets are to their owners particularly people in poor health. It’s hard enough to get humans to take the tablets, but when it comes to getting animals to take them it’s a whole different ball game. A veterinary friend of mine shared a great tip with me. When you are trying to get your dog to take worm tablets, for example, all you need to do is cut a sausage up into three pieces. Give the dog the first little treat, smuggle the pill up into the second piece of sausage and leave a nice taste in his mouth with the third. What a great tip and keeps everyone happy.

Adults face their own challenges with taking medication. Medicines like anti-inflammatories can be hard on the stomach, and should be taken after food. A very common question I get asked when I dispense antibiotics is ‘Can I drink with these?’

Alcohol is generally compatible with medicine when taken in moderation. There are exceptions to the rule such as the antibiotic Meltronidazole which can cause a severe reaction when mixed with alcohol.

If anyone has any other stories to please comment below. I will write another blog with all the tips included. The more ideas the better and we can all help each other!