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Safe Use of Medicines In Children


Medicines are substances that are introduced into the body to treat or prevent illness, and to maintain health. The wrong use of medicine can cause harm to our body. Therefore, we have to adhere strictly to the instructions given by the health care providers. We also need to be aware of some basic information when taking medication.

What are the categories of medicines?

There are 2 broad groups of medicines :

  • Prescription medicines – must be ordered by a doctor
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines – can be bought without a prescription

Both categories of medicines should be handled very carefully.

What do you need to ask your pharmacist or doctor about medicines?

  • What is the name of the medicine?
  • What is it for?
  • How much and how often does my child need it?
  • How long does my child need to take it?
  • What are its possible side effects?
  • What if my child misses a dose?
  • Will there be problems if my child is taking other medicines?
  • How long does it take to give effect?


  • Read the label and any other written instructions given by the pharmacist thoroughly.
  • Be sure you understand the directions given. Call or see the pharmacist or doctor if you need more information.
  • Give medicine to your child exactly as directed.
  • Make sure that you have sufficient supply of medicine for your child before the next appointment (if medicine is needed for long term).
  • Give your child the whole course of the medicine unless instructed otherwise.


  • Do not give the medicines of one child to another even if you think they may have the same condition!

Giving Medicines To A Child: How To Measure Liquid Medicine?

  • Use the measuring spoon, cup or syringe that comes with the medicine. It will give the most exact dose.
  • If the medicine doesn’t come with a special measuring tool, ask for one at pharmacy. A silverware spoon may hold the wrong amount of medicine.
  • Check the markings to make sure your measuring tool can measure the right dose.

Most liquid medicines are measured in teaspoons (tsp) and milliliters (ml) 5 ml = 1 teaspoon (tsp)
15ml = 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

How should you store your medicines?

  • Keep medicines in their original container.
  • Keep in the refrigerator if directed or required on the label.
  • Keep medicines in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep medicines away from children.

Keep medicines in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight.

Keep medicines away from children.

How should you dispose your medicines?

  • Throw away all expired medicines.
  • Throw out any left over or unused medicines.
  • Ask your pharmacist for the safe and correct disposal method of unwanted medicine.
Last reviewed : 24 July 2008
Writer : Dr. Nour Hanah bt. Othman