Today we’re talking about giving medication to kids through a feeding tube and the number one hack we’ve found for making the medication administration process easier.
Our son is like a lot of children with special needs in that he requires a fair amount of medication, both prescription and over-the-counter.
When he got a feeding tube many years ago, all his medication was in liquid form, or if a medication didn’t come in liquid form, it had to be compounded at a specialized pharmacy to be given in liquid form. This was pretty painful for several reasons:
But we developed a hack, and I’m sure someone else along the way has figured this out as well, but I am always surprised when we show doctors and nurses this trick that they’ve never seen it before, because it’s so simple. This hack has allowed us to substitute almost all of our son's liquid medications (except one) with tablets, including things like Tylenol and Advil/motrin.
One caveat: The medication technique discussed here can only be used with medication tablets that can be crushed. Almost all of our son’s medications, include over-the-counter medications, can be crushed. But certain medications, particularly extended release tablets (which have a special coating or are designed to dissolve slowly over time), cannot be crushed. Tube fed children typically are not prescribed extended release medications, because that format is typically incompatible with a feeding tube. Before you explore this idea, however, you do want to check with your child’s doctor or health care practitioner to make sure any medication your child takes can be dosed in a tablet form and can be “crushed”.
So on to our medication hack!
Remove the plunger from the syringe
Drop the tablet into the syringe and replace the plunger
Draw water into the syringe
The medication typically dissolves within a few minutes. Medication will dissolve more quickly if we use warm water and, with a couple of the thicker tablets, we snap them in half on the score mark which also helps them to dissolve faster. This technique is quick, clean, and we know we are consistently giving the same dose of medication each time. We no longer have medications compounded and the tablets take up much less space than the liquid counterparts. We also use this technique with Tylenol and motrin. If you have a baby or young child with a feeding tube, there are dye free chewable pain reliever tablets that should dissolve in this same way, so you may want to explore this option for smaller children.
And just a final thought on medication.....we always use dye-free medication whenever possible. Both of our children become irritable and have other significant behavior changes with food dye. In Europe, food dyes have largely been abandoned in products and food for children and require a warning label for these reasons (see the link here), but the US is a bit behind in this regard. Dyes are often added to children’s medication to make the medicine more palatable (or fun) for children, but they serve no therapeutic purpose and, in our case, actually cause harm. We find we have to be particularly careful with dyes added to liquid pain relievers, antibiotics and steroids. Most OTC medications have dye-free options and we have a note on file in our children’s file at the pharmacy not to add any dyes to prescribed medications.
I hope this medication hack may give you some help and ideas for your own medication administration.
Please leave a comment or ask a question and I’d love you to tell me if there are other topics you’d like me to cover in future videos!
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Being a caregiver to a child with significant special needs for over a decade, Laura McGrath wants to provide support and information to the special needs community.
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