Posted by Hilary Parker on May 16, 2011
If your family is at all like mine, you once were fairly confident when giving Tylenol or Motrin to your feverish baby, or teething relief medicine to the toddler who’d awoken for the sixth time since midnight. Relief for them, relief for you — everybody goes home in a limousine. You measured the dose carefully, but otherwise didn’t worry about it.
But now, with the multiple-year recall of so many over-the-counter children’s medicines and the FDA listing more and more concerns regarding giving the most popular kind of medicinal teething aid, parents are in a world of hurt. Seemingly overnight, we can’t trust drug manufacturers to do the right thing.
And all this is before we even have to worry about our kids being old enough to start experimenting with these drugs.
This turn of events has my friends and me asking, “What now?”
Options include going 100 percent homeopathic, though that is complicated, typically less effective and not without its own worries, as the production of such remedies is not regulated. Another option is the old-fashioned “gut it out,” complete with pain and fried nerves. But there are many situations in which a fever simply must be reduced in order to prevent complications like hearing loss, seizures — even brain damage in extreme cases.
As always, a good heart-to-heart with our children’s pediatrician can shed light on the subject. Ours reminded me that an ounce of antibacterial hand soap is worth a .8 mL of cure, and advised me to find a happy medium when it came to using drugs. Watch for recalls, she advised, but more importantly, watch your children: If they show the signs of overdose (for acetaminophen, these signs include abdominal pain, appetite loss, coma, convulsions, diarrhea, irritability, jaundice, nausea, sweating, upset stomach and vomiting and can take 12 or more hours to present themselves), seek immediate medical care. It’s not a foolproof way to ensure your child doesn’t consume soon-to-be-recalled medicines, but it’s the best we can do, she said.
My doctor’s perspective helped me find my happy medium. I’ve resolved to treat our daughters with a hybrid approach: Using the tools familiar to generations of parents (including lukewarm baths, amber teething beads and chicken soup) first and over-the-counter medications as needed after that. I don’t give them multi-symptom cold medicines, particularly decongestants, but do use expectorants. This approach means they’re not always feeling as well as they used to while they get over their illness, but I don’t see the need to have them running around the house during a sick day, either.
It’s a good compromise. And we moms know all about that.