Nip illness in the bud with these vital medicines

Ensure you have the right over-the-counter medicines at home should your baby fall ill suddenly.

25 September 2014
by Dr Iqbal E Karbanee

Any parent with children under the age of five years should have a few essential medicines in the home should illness suddenly strike their tot. These two are absolute essentials:

1. Fever medication

If your baby suddenly seems to have developed a fever, check their temperature with a thermometer immediately – a normal temperature is between 36 and 37.5 degrees. Baby’s hands and feet may appear cool but their core, that is, the head, neck and body, may be hot.

If the thermometer shows that there is a fever, remove baby’s clothing and blankets and start cooling your child. Wiping the forehead with a damp cloth helps, as does wetting the skin with the cloth. However, it is not advisable to place them in a cold bath!

The next step is to give medication that will bring their temperature down. The first line is paracetamol, which is usually in the form of a syrup. It is advisable too to keep paracetamol in the form of suppositories, as this is easy to administer and works very well.

Other fever medications include brufen syrup as well as mefenamic acid. Your local Clicks pharmacy will advise you on the various products available that contain these very effective medications. Combination products are also available.

In all cases of fever in the child especially under the age of six years, the fever should be aggressively brought under control, and fever meds should be given every four to six hours to ensure the temperature stays down.

Fever is the body’s way of trying to fight an infection. When a fever is treated, the underlying infection may not clear, and thus if a fever persists for more than three days, and the child is looking ill, a medical opinion should be sought.

2. Oral rehydration solution (ORS) powder

As we approach warmer weather, there’s usually an increase in diarrhoea. Keeping ORS in your home will ensure you’re ready should your child become infected with this.

ORS is a prepacked powder that contains salt, sugar and certain other chemicals that are specially balanced to replace what is lost when the child has loose stools. In children with loose stools, excessive fluid loss can result in dehydration. Replacing this with the correct fluid is essential.

The child will be thirsty and may want to drink lots at one go. It’s better to rather give them smaller amounts and do this more often. For example, 50ml given every 20 minutes will give fluids back in a steady way that will help treat and prevent dehydration.

There are lots of Oral Rehydration Salts preparations available, but your Clicks pharmacy will advise you on which ones to get.

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