How to Safely Take Your Allergy Medication

By Heather Legg

With so many allergy medications on the market, both over the counter and prescription only, how do you know what is the best choice for you or your child? With all we hear in the news, we want to make sure that what we are using is not only effective, but also safe. Luckily, we have resources to go to and choices if we aren’t happy with a current medication.

To begin with, ask your doctor. If it is for your child, ask your pediatrician. Adult drugs work differently on children, doses are different and side effects can be different as well. Make sure the medicine fits the symptoms. Most allergy symptoms are pretty similar, but if some are hitting you stronger than others, seek a medication that will treat your personal symptoms.

After checking with your doctor, discuss your choice with the pharmacist, even if you are going with an over the counter medicine. Your pharmacist actually usually knows more about drugs and medications than your doctor. You can express concerns and he can help you choose the right one. Also, don’t forget to express concerns to your doctor.

Some common concerns to ask about:
• Drowsiness factor
• Interactions with other medications
• How often to take the medication and when exactly
• What are side effects on children (appetite, school performance, mood changes)

Once you have chosen your medication, READ the label. You may also want to go the manufacturer’s website and closely read it all, even the pages of fine print. There you should be able to find all warnings, safety precautions, and other drug interactions. Remember if you or your child has other health concerns, you need to tell these to the doctor and/or pharmacist because some medications will cause other reactions if certain health issues are present or other medications are being used.

When you take the medicine, or your child does, be on the look out for any negative side effects. Some people have trouble taking medication on an empty stomach. Some medications make certain people drowsy while causing no trouble for others. Some medications can alter mood or appetite, especially in children and teens. If you notice anything odd or disconcerting, talk to your doctor; either dosage or product can be changed.

Also, make sure you are taking (or giving) the proper dosage. A teaspoon or tablespoon can’t be measured with utensils; you need a dosing cup with measurements which you can get from the pharmacist. For your child, make sure you have the children’s form of the medicine. You can’t just give less of an adult medicine to a child.

Just like in so many other aspects of our lives, a little research pays off. Use your own judgment after hearing what the professional recommendations are. If you are uncomfortable with some of those recommendations, voice your concerns and seek options. We are lucky in today’s world that we do have so many medical options.

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