Over the past several weeks, children’s pain and fever medication have been in short supply.
Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, ear infections and COVID-19 have been sweeping through the nation, causing higher demands for these medications. Many store shelves have been empty for weeks and some places are restricting the amount to two bottles per customer. In addition, some antibiotics such as amoxicillin and Augmentin as well as Tamiflu are out of stock in many pharmacies across the state.
“The idea that we have a shortage here in the U.S. is kind of embarrassing,” said Phillip Cowley, a pharmacist and owner of Cache Valley Pharmacy, in a telephone interview. “We spend more than anybody else on health care, yet we have the shortages. We need to let lawmakers know that our medication supply chain is just as important as our energy supply chain.”
Cowley said there used to be 40 to 50 medication manufacturers across the globe. Now there are three to six.
Despite the complicated topic of supply chain problems, however, Cowley said there is always a way to make a children’s dosage of medicine. You just have to ask the right questions. He talks about this and many other medication issues on his Instagram and TikTok feeds, @philsmypharmacist.
“You have to be proactive. Every single medication has a way to make a child’s dose. There’s always a way to cut it, split it or mix it,” Cowley said. “Tell your doctor you need the medication and ask him or her to prescribe the right dose for your child’s age and weight. Don’t take it upon yourself to figure out the dose. Have a professional walk you through the process and determine the correct dosage.”
Cowley said adult forms of capsules can be opened up and — in the right dosage prescribed by your doctor — can be mixed into anything, from chocolate syrup to apple sauce, frosting and peanut butter, to hide the taste.
“I’ve never met a kid who turned down a spoonful of ice cream,” he said.
There are also additional ways to help your child when they’re suffering from symptoms such as fever, cough or a stuffy nose. Cowley said using saline in your humidifier will help with congestion. Adding 1 milliliter of glycerin to saline drops will also help break down thick nasal mucus so it’s easier to suck out with a syringe.
Healthychildren.org, affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics, also suggests ways to help reduce fever in children. Among them are keeping their room comfortably cool, dressing them in light clothing and encouraging fluid intake. Do not give children aspirin, which has been linked with Reye syndrome, which can seriously affect the brain and liver, the site warns. Also, do not apply rubbing alcohol on your child, as it can be absorbed into the skin or inhaled, causing serious conditions and even coma.