What is a liquid medicine?
Liquid medicines include liquids, solutions, syrups and mixtures and are commonly used in patients that have difficulty swallowing medicines. They are also commonly used in children and the elderly. The liquid medicine should be made such that the dose needed will be a sensible volume such as 5mL (one teaspoon).
Liquid medicines include sweeteners and flavourings to cover-up the taste of the medicine so that they are more pleasant to take. The sorbitol included in some liquid medicines as a sweetener can cause diarrhoea when taken in large amounts, so it might be worth checking how much sorbitol your medicine contains, and then talking to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any worries. Liquids tend to have a ‘gloopy’ consistency which makes them easier to measure out and administer but also safer to swallow. The consistency of the medicine is important as if it is too runny patients with swallowing difficulties may choke.
Liquid medicine may also contain other ingredients to ensure the active medicine stays in the liquid and can work properly; this helps to make sure there is an even distribution of the active ‘drug’ throughout the whole bottle of medicine so that your first spoonful of medicine from the top of the bottle and your last spoonful from the bottom of the bottle contain exactly the same amount of active drug. Most medicines will state on the label ‘shake bottle well before use’. It is important that you do this to help ensure all of the drug particles are evenly dispersed throughout the bottle. Some liquid preparations may also contain alcohol. These should obviously be avoided in children, but caution should also be taken by patients who have problems with their liver.
If you are in any doubt as to whether your liquid medicine is suitable for you or if you have any other concerns, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist.