Friday, March 12, 2010

NOT the pink stuff

Peanut was really sick last week. She went from fine to crawling into bed at 9am on her own within 30 minutes. She said her neck hurt and I whisked her off to the doctor in an instant. No need to mess with meningitis - I don't care that we were in dress up clothes and jammies still! So the doc took a peek, and found that she had an ear infection. He said it wasn't bad, but gave us a prescription for amoxicillin anyway and sent us along on our merry way. I think I was so relieved that we were not looking at the fast downhill spiral of meningitis that I didn't even question him. He is my favorite of the four docs at the practice we go to, but honestly that is not saying much. At this visit, I was surprised to see him stop when he found something worth blaming her ailment on instead on continuing to be sure that was the root of it all. She refused to open her mouth and he did not press the issue.

So we left, prescription in hand on a Friday afternoon. Since it was an ear infection, and the most recent information indicates that most of these are viral and resolve on their own within a few days, we went home, laid on the couch and drank OJ, upped the probiotics, and ate lots of chicken soup. We tried some garlic oil drop in Peanuts ear, which seemed to help soothe her, but in a few days I could see her ear canal was big and puffy. Clearly, this was bacterial and nasty - I began the hunt for amoxicillin without dye.

So amoxicillin is bitter, and without some flavor it is apparently a bear to get down. Long ago when no one knew any better, I guess we just dealt with the taste in order to get well. Now that all medications are flavored and dyed in order to make them more palatable both to the tongue and to the eyes, it is next to impossible to find a pharmacy that does not include dye in their preparations. I spoke with 7 pharmacists before I found a place that didn't react like I was a total loon for seeking out a dye free version. After their initial "you're looking for what?", most of them did agree that red dye is a poor choice for children's medicine. Several pharmacists told me they would consider carrying a dye free version if I could find one for them. Two places said they had plain white chewable tablets that might work.

Think about it; lots of people have reactions to antibiotics. Lots of people have reactions to food dyes. Hmmmm. Maybe the dye is not the best thing to have in a medication?! Not only is amoxicillin usually red, it is typically red dye number 40 which is one of the worst. The CSPI has urged a ban on these dyes for some time now. I did find one place with red dye number 3, but kid has never been on antibiotics before - she has no clue that it "should be" pink or red, so why? Even some over the counter meds are now available in dye free versions.

I'll let others give you the research, but suffice it to say that none of us should settle for food, vitamins, or medication with dye. Besides, it has no purpose other than to make something look pretty. Really, if we need to dye it maybe we shouldn't be eating it anyway. Flavorings are a whole other story - our pharmacy added an oral suspension that made the amoxicillin taste neutral vs. bitter, but did not add any flavor per se.

So our first experience with antibiotics was a long drawn out ordeal, but once we did start the course, Peanut was much better within a few days. She took the unflavored undyed meds straight and was totally fine with the taste. We have had a heck of a time with LOTS of peeing while she has been on these, which I have been concerned enough about to visit the doctor again. We are one again up several times a night to pee, and the timing is directly related to when the last dose was. Anyway - if you are seeking a dye -free medication, visit a compounding pharmacy. Ours is the Centreville Medical Arts Pharmacy - hopefully, you wont need them, but if you do, they are great.


Amanda said...

Hey Laurie, there is another compounding pharmacy in Ashburn - Medicap Pharmacy.

Laurie said...

Thanks - I hadn't found that one! I did find one in Alexandria, and I think another in Leesburg. It was funny, the "mainstream" pharmacies (CVS, Target...etc., all sent me to Rexall because they were a "compounding pharmacy" according to them. Rexall still had Red dye #3 in their amoxicillin and couldn't make it without it. The definition of compounding is a little amorphous...