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What Are Some Possible Side Effects of Medication?

Charlotte Hendricks, PhD

March 16, 2020

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Question

What are some possible side effects of medication?

Answer

Every medication has some type of side effects. A side effect is an adverse or undesired reaction to a medication by one's body. That doesn't necessarily mean it's dangerous. For example, an antibiotic is designed to kill the bacteria that is causing the symptoms or the disease. A side effect of many antibiotics is nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea. It's not what you want but it's simply a side effect.

You need to be familiar with the possible side effects of each medication. Any suspected side effects are something to include on the authorization form. If you get medicine from a pharmacy, even over-the-counter ones, there's always a piece of paper in the box or with it that tells you all the possible side effects. When you read all of those, it makes you think, do I really want to take this? They are required by law to document and to inform you of everything. It doesn't mean you will have those side effects, it just means they're possible.

If you notice the child does have a side effect then document it and inform the parents. Immediately report any unusual or unexpected reactions, including behavior changes. Sometimes the side effect of a medicine is that it's causing pain, a cough, diarrhea, or drowsiness.  However, if there's something that's not expected such as a child suddenly seems to be lethargic, you need to call the parent and a healthcare professional. If a child is lethargic, meaning they're simply going limp, call 9-1-1 and get emergency care. It is possible for those things to happen. Usually, if there is an unexpected behavior change and definitely the lethargy or anything like that, that's more than a side effect which we will talk about.

Remember that every child can react differently to the same drug. If you have two children that are both on the same medication, for example, augmentin which is an antibiotic, then one child may have diarrhea and the other may not. Antihistamines cause drowsiness for a lot of children but some children actually seem to rev up and have a lot of extra energy when they're on an antihistamine.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Administration of Medication in ECE Settings, in partnership with Region 9 Head Start Association, by Charlotte Hendricks, PhD.


charlotte hendricks

Charlotte Hendricks, PhD

Dr. Charlotte Hendricks has promoted health education for young children, families, and teachers for over 30 years and pioneered curriculum development and evaluation for preschool health education. Nationally recognized as a leader in her field, her career has spanned public health, higher education, Head Start, and research. She often presents to early childhood programs and at state and national conferences, delivering high energy presentations to illustrate practical and cost-effective approaches to best practice, national standards, and issues facing today’s early childhood staff and families.

Charlotte served as Editor for Healthy CHILDCare magazine for 16 years and has published extensively, including HIP on Health®: Health Information for Caregivers and Families and Growing, Growing Strong: A Whole Health Curriculum for Young Children. Her latest book, Redleaf Quick Guide to Disaster Planning and Preparedness in Early Childhood and Schoolage Care Settings, exemplifies her ability to present essential information in an easy-to-follow format.


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