My kid is sick and I can’t find medicine – what do I do?

(NewsNation) — Kids around the nation are dealing with the flu, RSV and COVID-19 — and now, a medicine shortage.

The “tripledemic,” as some are calling it, is straining pediatric hospitals, doctors’ offices and urgent care centers. Now, some parents reportedly can’t find kids’ Tylenol, Motrin and other children’s medications.

The Washington Post reports that the medicine shortage, which is a result of manufacturers not being able to keep up with parents’ demands, will likely be short-lived according to some, while other experts think it might be weeks or months. However, as one Northwestern Medicine pharmacist, Dr. Sterling Elliott, pointed out, there’s been drug shortages “across the board” for more than five years now.

So what do you do when your child is feeling ill, but you can’t find any medication? Dr. Krupa Playforth, also known as The Pediatrician Mom, has some suggestions.

Try a generic version

There are some newer brands, like Genexa and KinderMeds that have acetaminophen and ibuprofen products, Playforth says.

“You can also try store brands,” she added. “Those products are equivalent and just as effective, so those are good options.”

Try a different child version of what you normally buy

For instance, Playforth said, if you usually buy children’s ibuprofen, you could try infant ibuprofen. “The thing to know about Ibuprofen in particular, though, is that the concentration of infant is different than children’s,so you want to make sure that you’re using the correct dose,” she said.

Dosing information can be found at Playforth’s website, Or, you can contact your pediatrician for help with dosage.

Another option is trying a chewable tablet, or even a suppository form of medicine, instead of a pill or liquid, Playforth said.

Find a compounding pharmacist

“Find out if there’s a compounding pharmacist in your area that can compound the medication to make a child version for you, if you’re really struggling,” Playforth said.

Compounding, according to the American Pharmacists Association, is the creation of a pharmaceutical drug by a licensed pharmacist for an individual patient when a commercially available drug doesn’t meet their needs.

However, Playforth notes that this isn’t necessarily available everywhere.

What not to do

There are some things that Playforth does not recommend.

Cutting an adult version in half could be dangerous, she says. If somebody really wants to, they need to talk to their pediatrician.

“The truth is, medications like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are safe when given in the right doses,” Playforth said. “But if you’re doing something like opening up a capsule and giving your child just a portion of it or trying to cut a pill, the risk is that you overdose your child and that can be fatal. It’s not something I recommend.”

Home remedies, she said, especially homeopathic or over-the-counter supplements, are also not always a good idea, as there is not a lot of data out there for these products, and they are not as regulated.

“I like to remind parents that fever is not dangerous,” Playforth said. “It is scary when your child has an elevated temperature, but the fever is the body’s way of fighting the infection. So your goal when your child has a fever is to keep them comfortable and to keep them hydrated.”

While there are certain circumstances where a fever does mean a trip to the emergency room, such as with a child under the age of two or three months, or children with an underlying health condition, for the vast majority of kids, it isn’t necessarily that severe, she said.


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