Add To PHR
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are drugs you can buy without a doctor's prescription. This doesn't mean that OTC medicines are harmless. Like prescription medicines, OTCs can be very dangerous for children if not taken the right way.
Be sure to read the package instructions on these medicines carefully. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before giving OTC medicines to young children.
Here are some safety tips for parents and other caregivers:
Studies show that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines don't work very well. Some of these medicines can cause problems if used too much. These medicines don't cure the cold or cough. And they don't help your child get better faster.
Use these medicines exactly as your doctor says, and keep them out of children's reach.
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
This website has tips for safe use of over-the-counter medicines for children and adults. It has information about drug labels, ingredients, drug interactions, and more.
This website has health information for people of all ages. Topics include the following: medicines, food and nutrition, medical devices, cosmetics, and animal health. Spanish materials are also available.
As part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control PROTECT Initiative, this website helps remind families to store all medicines and supplements out of sight and out of reach of children. You can also find other medicine safety tips on this site.
Other Works ConsultedSullivan JE, et al. (2011). Clinical report: Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics, 127(3): 580–587. Also available online:
Last Revised: January 22, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
print close directions