Giving medicines for child
I am not sure whether it is good management or good luck that makes some children take medicine like lambs and others fight it all the way. But it is always a wise policy to administer medicine casually and without too much talk, either about how good it is for her or how nice it is or anything else that places too much emphasis on it. Once she gets the notion that it is something you are anxious about she could become difficult. For babies you can use an eye dropper or spoon
or a Dinky feeder (35). A clean injection syringe without a needle is handy because it will not spill, but you will have to make a line indicating dosages on it with nail polish.
You can crush tablets between the bowls of two spoons, add a little water and suck the mixture up into the syringe. Direct the syringe towards the back of her mouth from the side and squirt slowly so that she has time to swallow.
When an older child refuses point blank to take her medicine I would not waste too much time on trying to bribe, cajole or threaten her. It seldom has the desired effect and next time you will have to double the stakes. Tell her firmly she has to have the medicine and if necessary you will give it to her by force. Warn her that if she vomits it she will have to have another dose which will mean double the trouble. Of course it is better not to have to force a child to do anything but here you have no alternative.
Hold her on your lap with your left arm around her (if you are right handed) and with the hand that is encircling her, squeeze open her mouth gently and put the medicine in, using your right hand. Some medicines really taste dreadful and it is a good idea to ask your doctor if he can substitute with something more pleasant if possible. There is no need to impose something really unpleasant on a child if it can be avoided. If she vomits her medicine up within 45 minutes of taking it, give her another dose. Check with your doctor whether she should have it before or after food. If he says it makes no difference, give it straight after meals to avoid stomach upsets. Antibiotics can also cause stomach cramps and loose stools and should not be taken with milk as it hinders absorption in some instances. If necessary, wash down tablets or liquid medicine with plain water.
Tetracyclines taken during pregnancy and early childhood can stain permanent teeth brown or yellow so question your doctor about it if he prescribes them. They should not be given before the age of six except in cases where there is no alternative. If a child does need tetracycline drugs she should not play in the sun as they can cause a rash.
Antibiotics have no effect on viral illnesses except in very rare instances. Do not badger your doctor to prescribe them as they may do more harm than good. When the doctor is convinced the child has a bacterial infection (he may need to take a throat swab and do a culture), an antibiotic will be prescribed and is likely to be most effective.
A doctor who prescribes antibiotics for a child by telephone without seeing her and making a diagnosis is not practising medicine properly.
Nose drops. Nose drops should not be given except on your doctors orders. If they are used for prolonged periods they can cause the nasal tissue to become sensitised. To give them, get the child to lie down with her head far back off the edge of the bed, for example. Hold her arms down with your free hand and squeeze in the drops. You must then pinch her nose closed gently and hold her head back for 30 seconds. If she lifts her head too quickly the drops will run out. If your babys nose is so blocked from a cold that she has difficulty feeding, you can clear it temporarily by using a salt water solution. Dissolve/s of a teaspoon of salt in 50 ml lukewarm water. Put a few drops in her nose minutes before a feed.
Ear drops. Olive oil and other home remedies should never be put in a childs ears as she could have a burst ear drum and drops will complicate the problem.
If your doctor reports that your child has a heavy coating of wax in her ears he should remove it with tweezers or flush it out with a syringe. Wax can cause
faulty hearing at a time when a child is learning to talk – this can hinder language development. Only medically prescribed ear drops should be given. Let the child lie down with the head lowered and tilted to one side. Put the drops in and give them a chance to soak right into the ear before letting her get up.
Eye medication. Children seldom need eye drops, but if they are prescribed keep her head back and drop them into the inner corner of the eyes. Eye ointment is sometimes necessary and this comes in a little tube. Just squeeze a little bit into the inner corner of the eye and it will spread by itself.
Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the intestinal tract) is a common infection, especially in summer. It causes cramping pain and is usually accompanied by vomiting, fever and frequent loose stools. Because the child is losing fluid top and bottom, she can become dehydrated very quickly. This is a very serious condition in a young child and a doctor must be seen as soon as possible. (See p. 117 for emergency treatment of gastroenteritis.)
Another cause for cramping pain that comes and goes is constipation (117). If very quick action is required you can use an enema. Special enemas for use in children are available. They consist of a little plastic tube filled with a special liquid and a nozzle. You grease the nozzle with petroleum jelly and insert it a little way into the rectum. Within minutes a stool is produced. You should not, of course, make a habit of giving your child an enema – but these enemas are expensive enough to discourage over-use anyway.
Do not give your child a laxative or enema unless you have definitely ruled out the possibility that her stomach pain is caused by appendicitis as it could aggravate the condition.
Intestinal obstruction is another condition that is characterised by cramping pain that comes and goes. Between the ages of two months and two years
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