She is about 8, skinny yet full of energy. She would run and hop from one corner of the hall to the other, bang the doors as she frequently moved in and out of the hall, laugh hysterically and pull at her own hair. Her uncontrolled behavior became irritating to the women. Some of them started calling out the mother, threatening to lock her out of the hall.


It was a skill acquisition program organized by the community leadership for unemployed mothers. Everyone was too busy learning, working, sharing or teaching to be so disturbed by a school-age girl who should not have been brought to the center. 


“She is sick. That’s why she’s restless, she is sick”


A concerned voice not too far from my stand said. She was one of the participants, a friend and countrywoman of the girl’s mother.


The girl; Rihana appears too active to be healthy. I had so reasoned, but waved the thoughts off as being too extreme.


Poor girl! Cried a woman

How come? Since when? Who issued the drug? Asked another.


At infancy, the girl had been down with malaria, a certain antimalarial had been administered and the medicine had counteracted on the poor girl. After weeks of hospital admission, she was physically hale, but her psychological growth had been badly impaired. The parents are striving to bring the girl to a normal state of mind but finances are not helping. The countrywoman explained.


Soon enough, almost everyone was talking at the same time;

Quinine or chloroquine?

I wouldn’t use that for my dog!

Didn’t she know?


Malaria is a plaque in Africa but ignorance is a greater plaque…

Questions, tips, recommendations and opinions began to pour in even as the woman did not hesitate to reply them. Meanwhile, the mother kept mum as everyone freely gave opinions and expressed concerns.


Beyond the silence of the mother who continued her knitting as though she understood none of what was being said, I saw pain, regret, tiredness and frustration. I hoped and prayed no mother ever has to be blamed, judged or reprimanded for her efforts at helping her child out of a sickness.


And that was what touched my instincts to pen down some of the ways parents can avoid harmful medications while treating a sick child.

Don’t self medicate, visit a doctor

Yes we all know the rigors, expenses and time put into doctor’s visit. Is it the process of getting tests done (even when they know the pathology), being referred to other specialists, getting prescriptions; if you’re fortunate enough not to be admitted or visiting at a later date for check ups and whatever. We’ve all been there and would still go that lane.

We would still go that lane because there is a lesser chance of a doctor making medical mistakes, lethal errors or mishandling an emergency when compared to an agitated parent. That is why they are called specialists. Treat a child’s life like a trust that it is. Don’t watch their conditions deteriorate before seeking medical help. However proficient you had been in the past, treat every sickness as a different case. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t be pressured

As parents, it is agonizing to watch your kids suffer in pains; groaning, crying, being restive and loosing appetites. These are reactions to what they are going through. Don’t be pressured into increasing the dosage to ease their suffering or supplementing with other medications without doctor’s consent.


Actually, pain is a vital symptom in diagnosis. It may also be a signal of the body’s struggle with the disease. It also helps children practice patience and endurance. So, keep your calm and watch them recover in no time at all.

Never belittle a dosage

Medicines are like miniature objects of magic; they look too small to be real, dig up the roots of diseases as though they planted it and leave ‘footprints’ called side effects. Well, that is why medications aren’t meant to be toyed with. A little compromise in the dosage or administration of medicines can have grave consequences than imagined.


As a cautionary measure, religiously follow the dosage as prescribed based on the age, body mass and conditions of the patient. In fact, medicines and medicinal products containing minimal chemical composition or prescribed in small dosages are usually more potent.

Go easy on home treatment.

When treating conditions like common cold, cough and others in the homey way, be certain about the right dose, child’s allergy and the potency of the mixtures. Also, be on the watch out for interactions. Don’t get stuck in the myth that natural medicines can’t be overdosed. Seek expert’s advise before administering herbs, honey, spices and others to younger children.  Natural stuffs can be harmful too.

Don’t treat a similar symptom with a previous medication

A combination of symptoms usually leads to the diagnosis of diseases. Parents should beware of giving a sibling’s medicines to a sick child simply because a symptom seems similar. Child A’s cough may be an allergic reaction while child B’s may be a signal to respiratory disease. Feeding child B the drugs of child A will not cure the condition but aggravate it. Also, many children’s medicines are age based and not suitable for their siblings. Don’t be caught unawares!

Be sure of what you are preventing

Prevention is better than cure goes the age-long proverb. Mothers are sometimes caught up in the act of feeding a child certain medicines as a preventive measure to counter the possibility of contacting diseases from siblings and peers. This could be a disservice to the immune system of the body as it is more likely to build up resistance to the drugs.


If you are bent on boosting a child’s immune system, do so by ensuring good nutrition, eliminate exposure to germs and infections and inculcate good hygiene in the children.

Check and recheck

As a parent, endeavor to check the expiry dates of medicines before administering them to your children. Don’t rely on the pharmacist’s check. Some drugs like reconstituted antibiotics may not expire but needed to be disposed because they are meant to be used within a time frame. The doctors may not have the time to explain everything. Leaflets are meant to be read for better understanding of the medicinal products.


If possible, taste the syrup before feeding it to your babies. Observe any change in the color and smell of medicines. Don’t be in a hurry to feed them something you wouldn’t be caught dead swallowing.

Be decisive on the course of treatment.

If you’re going herbal, stay herbal, don’t let your child wash down a tablet with an herbal tea. Combining medications of same indications and effects deprives you of knowing which is actually effective. It could have an undesirable consequence and put the child at the risk of overdose. Have enough patience to observe which and what medication cures or alleviates a condition.

Beware of drug traces reaching the baby

As mildly reactional as certain drugs claim to be, they could find their traces to the breast milk even when not orally consumed. Doctors have confirmed that some suppositories administered as painkillers on the mother’s rectum after caesarean section could affect the breastfed newborn. The signals are excessive calmness of the baby; even when injected and too much sleep.


Also certain medications like piroxycam gel administered on the skin finds its way to the bloodstream and may have adverse effect on the fetus. Let the doctor know your pregnancy status and either or not you are breastfeeding so as to ascertain which medicine is more suitable.

Get informed

To guard against drug abuse and being harmed by a medication, get relevant information from the doctor issuing the prescription; ask him questions as regards your child’s treatment options, the side effects as well as the right method of administration. Read leaflets of medicines to discover important information the doctor or pharmacist did not mention. Not all drugs needs to be shaken before use, just as some drugs are too time sensitive to miss a dosage

Be safety conscious

As a safety measure, keep all medicines and medicinal products out of children’s reach. Though some children detest the taste and smell of medicines, some flavored, colorful and shapely ones are too tempting to be ignored. You will be avoiding many harms when you properly dispose used syringes, drips and expired drugs. Be on the safer side.