What Should You Do If Your Child Swallows Your Medication?

4 min read

By Dr. Chetan Ginigiri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

We would like to share somewhat frightening but a fact – in every 8 minutes, a child is taken to ER for medicine poisoning!!
The most crucial time in a parent’s life is when the child starts crawling or walking. The tiny steps are way too exploratory, and the little minds are also curious. With this inquisitiveness, they tend to try and see every object that interests them. Many times these small objects can be toxic or dangerous to them. Parents are vigilant and cautious about the toys they play yet sometimes tend to ignore a significant thing in their houses, which are the medicines. Medicines come in varied shapes and colors and are not too big in size, which is why they are sure enough to attract the child. Another fundamental reason for their inquisitiveness is the fact that medicines are taken by the parents, and they tend to mimic or imitate their parents.

Little do they know how it affects their health, so as parents, we need to be cautious that no medicines are kept in the child’s vision, and he has no access to it even if we need to lock it. Medicines are made with many chemicals and are more like poison for them. Still, there are a few of the drugs that are most harmful if taken by the child, and they are stated as below:

Most Harmful Medications Over The Counter

Medicines do no good to the child, especially if it is the one the adults take as the dosage varies from child to adult. Secondly, owing to its size, there are chances of it getting choked, and because of the constituents, it is made up of which are detrimental to the health of the baby. The medicines that are a complete no for kids are:
Heart Medications: Any heart medicine that is ingested by the child tends to drop the heart rate and blood pressure levels considerably, resulting in heart attacks and shock.
Pain Relievers: The pain relievers are easily found in every house, and it works wonders for the adults to relieve the pain in case they have. However, it is fatal for the child as it can lead to child poisoning.
Antidepressants: As suggestive of the name, these help in relieving depression for the adults, but it works in contradiction for the child if ingested. It has been seen that all antidepressants, anti-allergic tablets, and tranquilizers have accounted for a great percentage of acute child poisoning in the past few years. If the pill is ingested by a child, it can lead him to a state of coma or convulsion.
Diabetes Preparations: Any diabetic tablet, if ingested by young children, can be very detrimental for their health.
Other Medicines: It has been seen that many safe medications for adults apparently are accountable for child poisoning cases. Few of them like nasal drops, muscle pain relievers as they comprise of camphor, many different sprays, etc. can lead to a state of coma and other acute illnesses.
In case the child accesses these we need to watch out for the signs below; like:

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Excess salivation
  • Sleepiness for a longer duration

Under such circumstances, it is advisable to seek expert medical help and rush to the doctor immediately.

Smart Storage


It is said that “be safe than sorry.” It is important to be alert and watchful with the kids and remember that we take medicines to cure the ailments. At no cost, would we want drugs putting our kids into an acute problem, so we need to follow the steps regarding the storage of the medicines, and they are:

  • It is imperative to store all medicines, pills, etc. at a distance from where the child gets any access to it.
  • Always ensure that the bottles are tightly packed with kid-resistant lids and keep replacing the bottle once it is expired, and after every use, keep the bottle at its original location, making things easier for you to locate as well as reducing the fear of the child getting it.
  • Kids have the tendency to imitate the elders, so we should never take medicines in front of the kids and evade the chances of them copying us.
  • It has been often seen that parents try to feed kids the medicine by referring to it as “candy” else later the kid can start consuming drugs thinking it to be candy and very tasty.
  • Leftover pills, tablets, and syrups should be discarded if not in use or if expired as they are the most dangerous if ingested or consumed.
  • Never throw the medicines when finished in an open dustbin as the child

If it Happens…

It is always advisable to teach the kids of the dangers related to consuming a medicine which is not made for them but for younger kids, and we cannot explain so it is best to keep it away from their reach, at a place which they cannot access and always fitted with kid-resistant caps and lids. Yet if the child has accidentally swallowed the medicine, be it in any quantity we need to take some steps as given below:
Take your child to the nearest emergency room without any delay. Your child’s life is in danger, so you must seek immediate medical help. If possible, try to establish the type of medicine and the amount your child has swallowed to inform the emergency room specialists so that they are able to carry out the appropriate treatment.

  • Immediately rush to the emergency at the hospital.
  • Figure out the medicine that has been ingested and take the bottle so that it can be shown to the doctor.
  • Inform the doctor about the dosage taken by the child.
  • Help the medical faculty with the proper knowledge so that adequate treatment can be provided.
  • Do not hide any facts, as that can put the life of the child in danger.

Thus, it is imperative to be alert and cautious when we are around with kids. As adults, we cannot stop them from being curious and inquisitive, but the least we can do is ensure their safety.

Dr. Chetan Ginigiri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.