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Liquid medication administration

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If the medicine comes in suspension form, shake well before using.

Do not use silverware spoons for giving medication. They are not all the same size. A silverware teaspoon could be as small as a half teaspoon or as large as 2 teaspoons.

Measuring spoons used for cooking are accurate, but they spill easily.

Oral syringes have some advantages for giving liquid medications.

  • They are accurate.
  • They are easy to use.
  • You can take a capped syringe containing a dose of medication to your child's daycare or school.

There can be problems with oral syringes, however. The FDA has had reports of young children choking on syringe caps. To be safe, remove the cap before you use an oral syringe. Throw it away if you do not need it for future use. If you need it, keep it out of reach of infants and small children.

Dosing cups are also a handy way to give liquid medications. However, dosing errors have occurred with them. Always check to make sure the units (teaspoon, tablespoon, mL, or cc) on the cup or syringe match the units of the dose you want to give.

Liquid medications often don't taste good, but many flavors are now available and can be added to any liquid medication. Ask your pharmacist.

Unit conversions

  • 1 mL = 1 cc
  • 2.5 mL = 1/2 teaspoon
  • 5 mL = 1 teaspoon
  • 15 mL = 1 tablespoon
  • 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

Review Date: 11/2/2009
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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