A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

My surgery is full of coughs and colds and parents asking about over-the-counter children’s medicines. The differences are mainly in taste and price, as the essential ingredients are fairly standard. Here are the questions I’m most commonly asked.

Why are children’s medicines so sugary

The simple answer is so that the children will take them. I see a problem with many of the liquid antibiotics which do not taste sweet. Parents struggle to give them to their children, which is obviously a huge disadvantage. The small quantity of sugar in the medicine does not do any harm, especially when children are ill and likely to be eating less, but it is important to brush teeth after using children’s medicine. Do not give more than the dose on the bottle or use when they are not ill.

I struggle to give my child medicine when he is hot.

Try all the different oral preparations of ibuprofen and paracetamol – there is a huge range and the flavours vary enormously. Using a syringe instead of spoon may help. Once children are eight, they may prefer to swallow a tablet. One 200mg tablet of nurofen is an appropriate dose for an eight-year-old. Your GP can prescribe paracetamol suppositories for children who refuse medicine or who are vomiting.

What is available for children under six

Since 2009, cough medicine cannot be sold to this age group. The only things for this age are soothing medicines such as glycerol or syrup which temporarily relieve a dry cough.

Does cough medicine work in older children

In clinical trials, it does little but some patients find it useful for older children. It usually contains an antihistamine or a cough suppressant such as dextromethorphan. These have the side effect of drowsiness, which can help a child who is sleep-deprived from coughing all night.