We all remember how some of the liquid medications that we had to take as children tasted. There was yummy, bubble gum amoxicillin. There was disgusting, bitter Augmentin that we could barely tolerate enough to swallow. There was sweet, grape Dimetapp that soothed a sore throat and quieted a cough. Those are just a few I personally remember be given as a small child when head colds, strep throat, and walking pneumonia came my way. Unfortunately for me, the flavor of the medication was what it was. I just had to deal with it if it was nasty. Today, there is the option to flavor liquid medications if the original flavor is yucky. The brand of flavoring drops we use at my pharmacy is FLAVORx. I feel it works pretty well, and it’s a reasonable price ($2.99 USD per prescription). Having personally taste tested many of my “creations”, I feel comfortable telling my patients which flavor is their best bet to cover up the “yuckiness”.
There are some people, though, that cannot afford the service very easily. We have a high welfare population in my area, so I try to tell these people other ways to diminish the bad flavors. I also offer to flavor it at any time if they find it just too difficult to swallow it as is. The one thing I always tell people is to have a “chaser” ready for the really bad tasting things (Augmentin, Cleocin, etc). I also tell them to try sucking on an ice cube or ice pop for a few minutes prior to administration to help dull the taste buds. I always recommend keeping things in the fridge for the medications that don’t have specific storage requirements (azithromycin, prednisolone, etc). Most people find a combination of factors that works, and if they don’t, they come back in a day or two to ask for the flavoring service.
My story today is about a mother who was picking up some liquid allergy medication for her daughter. She asked me if it was okay to put it in the fridge. I told her that was fine and would help improve taste. She commented that taste isn’t a problem since they always mix the medication with whatever beverage she is having at the time of administration. She began listing off every drink you could think of–soda, milk, juice, tea…you get the picture. I asked her if someone had told her it was okay to do this with the medication. She said she came up with the idea by herself. Instead of going through each drink to see if it was okay to mix the medication in them, I asked her to refrain from doing this because I was unaware if it had any negative implications. She seemed confused, so I explained there are some medications that if mixed with or taken at the same time as some beverages could essentially be made inactive in the body. She nodded, and asked for tips on how to make the taste less bitter. I gave her my normal spiel, and she thanked me. She ended up coming back later to ask for the flavoring service just to make sure it was palatable enough.
My advice here for my readers is to never mix liquid medications with other beverages without contacting a healthcare professional (preferably a pharmacist) first. You want to make sure the drug is as effective as possible when taking it. Whether it be by finding something that is acceptable to mix it with or by flavoring the medication itself, we can help you figure out a way to make it less yucky.
Image courtesy of http://flavorx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/classic_flavoring_set.jpg