Prescription Dosages

Written by Tara Peris
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Determining proper prescription dosages for some drugs remains a frustrating blend of art and science. Although the dosage of many tried and true antibiotics follows well-established convention, newer drugs often require doctors to improvise. This is especially true for children, where size, cognitive capacity, and other developmental considerations are likely to complicate dosing procedures. Prescription dosage sensitivity is also encountered among the elderly. Because of biological changes the aging body does not react well to standard drug dosages.

In the majority of cases establishing prescription dosages for children is done by weight. The process of establishing the best prescription dosages for children can be quite tedious. For medications that are expected to be onboard for a while, such as Ritalin or Zoloft, most doctors will start low and gradually adjust the titration over repeated office visits. The approach to determining prescription dosages will be determined by both the nature of the medication itself, as well as each child's specific response. In the geriatric population most drugs dosages are individualized, usually the older patient is started on the lowest dose and is titrated upward until desired response is observed.

Appropriate Prescription Dosages for Children

Some medications like Ritalin, except for long acting (LA) or sustained release (SR) forms, and other psychostimulants wash out of the system quickly. That is, they take effect quickly and clear the body just as fast. Other medicines such as antidepressants need to build up in the body gradually over time. Clearly, these features of a drug will influence the dose at which it is administered.

Equally important, however, is consideration of an individual child's response to medication. With any medicine, from penicillin to antibiotics and psychoactive drugs, it is important to be sensitive to individual response patterns that may influence drug efficacy. An experienced pediatrician or pharmacist will be well-versed in both the nuances of a specific medication as well as procedures for determining prescription dosages in children.

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