SingaporeMotherhood | Baby & Toddler

March 2014

Spring-clean Your Kids’ Medicine Cabinet

Lim Zong Neng, Anson, a pharmacist at Watson’s Tampines Mall, tells us what the essential medications that you should always have in the medicine cabinet for children are.

Children tend to experience symptoms of minor ailments such as cough and cold. Consider keeping medications for these at home. The common ones include:

– cough (pholcodine, dextromethorphan)
– phlegm (acetylcysteine, bromhexine, ambroxol)
– runny nose (cetirizine, loratidine)
– blocked nose (phenylephrine)
– fever (paracetamol, ibuprofen)
– colic (simethicone and dicyclomine)


In general, these medications are only meant to relieve symptoms for children and help them to operate more comfortably while the body heals. The medications should not be used for prolonged period, that is, no more than a week each time. Do consult a pharmacist or a doctor if your child has been unwell for more than a week as this could indicate an underlying condition.

Can I share my medication with the kids? Does halving the dosage do the trick?

Usually, medication for children is prescribed based on their weight and age. Depending on the weight and age of the child, halving the dosage may not be appropriate.

Furthermore, most medication for adults usually comes in tablet form. This may be a challenge when being administered to children who are unable to swallow them. More importantly, not all medications are meant for everyone — even though they may experience the same symptoms. This is because some people may have certain drug allergies or medical conditions which may make it unsuitable for them to ingest a particular medication.

Can I keep unfinished medicine to be used in the future? Is this safe?

This is safe as long as the medicine has not expired and its quality (look at its colour and texture) has not been changed. It should also have been kept at the recommended storage temperature and condition.
Sick child taking medicine or cod liver oil

However, for some medicine, the shelf-life shortens once it has been opened e.g. most eye drops have to be discarded after 30 days of opening and most syrups last for six months once opened.

Always read the medicine leaflet or manufacturer’s instructions carefully. It’s also a good practice to write down the date of opening on eye drops and syrup bottles to help keep track of the expiry.

Certain medicine such as antibiotics should be completed as directed by the doctor. If there is any leftover and the doctor has advised you to stop the course, discard the remainder.

Always check with the pharmacist or doctor before taking unfinished medicine. Please do not share with medicines with others whom the medicine was not intended for.

How To Store Medication

• Store medications in their original containers, and keep the caps tightly closed.

• Do not mix different medications in the same container. Each medication should be clearly labelled with the medicine name and the proper dosage instructions.

• Discard any medication that has changed colour, texture or odour, even if it has not expired.

• Throw away capsules or tablets that stick together, are harder or softer than normal, or which are cracked or chipped.

• If you have children, consider purchasing medication with child-lock or child-resistant containers.

• The bedroom dresser drawer situated away from the windows may be a suitable place for storage of medications.

• Check your medicine cabinet every three to six months.

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Spring-clean Your Kids’ Medicine Cabinet