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Know your measurement abbreviations.

When reading the label, be sure you can tell the difference between a tablespoon (tbsp) and a teaspoon (tsp), as well as between a milligram (mg), milliliter (mL), and ounce (oz).

Don’t give medicine to your child in the dark.

Children are often sick at night, so it’s not unusual to be half awake and fumbling for medicine in the dark. Take a minute to turn on the lights and put on your glasses, if you wear them, so that you can clearly read the medicine label and dosing device.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before giving more than one OTC medicine.

If your child has a cough and a headache, it may seem logical to give him two medicines -- one for each problem. But many cold and flu symptom remedies have the same ingredients as pain relievers. If you give your child both, it could lead to an accidental overdose. Reading the Drug Facts label can help you spot the same ingredients, but you should still check with the pharmacist or your doctor before using more than one OTC medicine.

Treat colds without medication.

Children younger than 12 years who have nasal congestion can be treated with saline nasal drops or nasal spray, adequate fluids, and a cool mist humidifier instead of with OTC medications. Significant nasal blockage can be treated with nasal suction.

Don’t use cough and cold products for children under 2.

These products often have more than one ingredient, such as a decongestant, antihistamine, expectorant, cough suppressant, or pain reliever. According to the FDA, the benefits of these products are not worth the risks of serious side effects that can happen from using too much of them in children age 2 and under.

Many manufacturers have voluntarily raised the age limit and recommend that these medicines not be given to children under the age of 4.

It may be best to avoid medications such as oral or nasal decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, and cough suppressants in children under age 12. However, honey may be helpful to treat nighttime cough in children who are more than 1 year old.

Do not give aspirin to children under age 18.

Giving aspirin to a child can cause a rare, life-threatening condition called Reye’s syndrome. Never give an aspirin-containing product to your child unless your doctor recommends it.

Know when to call the doctor.

If your child has had a cold for a few days and is not getting any better or gets worse, call his doctor right way. Don’t give any medicine for longer than the amount of time listed on the box.

By following a few simple steps, you can help your little one recover in comfort and safety.

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