We’re a nation of pill poppers
AUSTRALIANS have become a nation of pill poppers with nine million of us taking a prescription drug every day, two million swallowing over the counter meds and another 7 million taking vitamins.
But our love affair with pills is seeing 230,000 people admitted to hospital each year suffering side effects and interactions.
And two in three parents are worried they haven't given their children the correct dose of medicine a new survey shows.
A survey of more than 1000 adult Australians conducted by YouGov Galaxy for NPS Medicinewise has found two in three parents have difficulty remembering how often to give their children medicine and half worry whether they are administering medicines correctly.
Sydney mum Kylie Robb knows first-hand the dangers of medicines in the home with her three year old Annabel almost swallowing the prescription ear drops meant for Harvey, the family dog because they were packaged in the same way as her craft glue.
"She'd only just had a growth spurt and was for the first time able to reach the bench top and she picked it up and asked if she could do craft and she was taking the lid off," the San Souci mum said.
"I caught her just in time,'
The label on the bottle warned to keep the ear drops out of the reach of children and said hands had to be washed after using the drops.
In another incident the curious Annabel found a pack of Strepsils in her mother's bag and thought they were lollies because they were brightly coloured.
Ms Robb says she keeps medicine locked in a bathroom cabinet but always worried when giving her children antibiotics in case there are side effects and has to be careful she and her husband don't accidentally overdose sick children on Panadol in the middle of the night.
"It's so important to remember how children can very innocently pick up and open a medicines container and how mindful all parents need to be o not leaving any medicine lying around - even if the medicine is for the family pet," says Ms Robb.
NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo says medicines are part of many people's lives, so it's critical we have access to information about why we're taking them and how to take them correctly.
"It doesn't matter whether our medicines have been prescribed by a doctor or bought from a supermarket or health food store, medicines can have side effects, and can interact with other medicines if you are taking multiple medicines," Dr Yoo said.
NPS Medicinewise Medical Adviser Dr Jill Thistlethwaite said giving a child medicine can be daunting for parents and it's important the medicine is administered at the right dose to be effective and to avoid accidental harm.
"While most medicines are well tolerated by children, there may be side effects such as diarrhoea with some antibiotics," Dr Thistlethwaite said.
Many parents are also confused about whether a child's age or weight should determine the dose they need.