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Be sure to take your medicine

medicine; injection; antibiotics; inhaler; immunisation; infection;


What is medicine?

Medicines are things that may make you feel better when you feel sick.

  • Some medicines can get rid of the sickness.
  • Some medicines can be taken to stop you getting sick.
  • Some medicines help you to feel better even though they don't get rid of the problem.

medicinesMany medicines are based on natural things, but nowadays most medicines are made in laboratories. This is so that every bit of one type of medicine will always be the same.

Once a medicine has been made, it is tested in many different ways until finally it is known to be safe enough to use for humans.

Being 'natural' does not always mean it is safe.

Different kinds of medicines

  • Antibiotics are chemicals which help your body's immune system to get rid of harmful bacteria which have gotten into your body. Your immune system, which includes white blood cells and lymph nodes, is your body's defence, which works all the time to fight off disease. See 'The immune system'
  • Pain relievers are medicines that can stop pain, like headaches, sore ears, and pains in muscles or bones. Paracetamol is a pain reliever which is often given to kids when something hurts.
  • medicinesAnti-histamines (say anti-hiss-ta-meens) are medicines that will help if you have an allergy to something that causes hives, hay fever or breathing problems.
  • Inhalers (say in-hay-lers) are medicines that help people who have asthma. They are often called 'puffers'.
  • Some people, like those who have diabetes (say dye-a-beet-eez) may need injections every day to help them live their lives.
  • Creams and ointments to put on the skin can soothe pain and itching for people who get skin problems like eczema (say ex-sma) or allergies. Some creams protect you from sunburn.
  • medicinesSome medicines are like a lolly that you can suck so that it makes your sore throat feel better.
  • In hospital some people may get their medicine intravenously (say in-tra-veen-us-ly). That means it comes from a drip through a tube and straight into the body through a special needle that is put into a blood vessel in your arm or hand. Putting the needle in can hurt a little bit, but it stays in place, and the medicine that is going through it does not hurt.
  • Immunisations (say im-you-ny-zay-shuns) can help people by stopping them getting sick in the first place. Are your immunisations up to date? You don't want to be getting measles, mumps, tetanus, chickenpox, rubella, whooping cough and hepatitis B? Maybe someone in your family had a flu shot before winter to try and avoid getting flu. Maybe you did too.

Taking medicine

If you have to take medicine, your doctor will tell you and and whoever looks after you about the medicine and how you have to take it. Your medicine may be a liquid in a bottle, tablets or capsules, an inhaler or a cream.

medicinesSometimes you may have more than one medicine. You might have something to kill off the illness and something to take away pain.

Whatever it is, make sure that you follow the instructions and remember to do exactly what you were told. It is also important to take the medicine for the full time, even if you are feeling better very quickly. If you stop too soon you could get sick again.


Other kinds of medicine

medicinesMany people nowadays take vitamins and herbal medicines to try and help their immune system to keep them healthy. Many of these probably don't help you much, and taking too many vitamins may do you harm. But sometimes herbal medicines can help - after all a lot of medicines are made from herbs. It's a good idea for mum and dad to talk to a qualified doctor or herbalist rather than someone who just sells herbal medicines.

The best medicine of all is to eat a healthy diet, exercise every day and be happy!

Keep the 'littlies' safe

Do you have a cupboard in your house where mum or dad keeps any medicines?

Many medicines have a cap which is really difficult to open. Can you think why they should have this? These caps, known as 'child proof' caps, are there to protect little kids.

  • Little kids may not know that what is in the bottle is medicine.
  • They may think that the tablets are lollies or the liquid is a special drink.
  • They could get very sick or even die.

You can help keep little kids safe by making sure that all medicines are kept away from little kids either in a locked cupboard or at the back of the highest shelf in the fridge, if the medicine has to be kept really cool. (It is hard for little kids to reach there even if they stand on something.)

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate"Do you have a cupboard in your house where mum or dad keeps any medicines?

Check medicine for the use-by date before you take it, and make sure that it is stored in the right place. Some medicines need to be kept in the fridge, while others may need to be stored in a cool dry place. It will say on the medicine. Ask your chemist or pharmacist if you are not sure."

Don't help yourself to any medicines without checking with your parent or carer first. Taking a bigger dose of medicine will not make you better more quickly. It could cause you to become more sick.

poor puppy

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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