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Duration: One hour


You've taken medicine before. But what do you know about medicines? Brainstorm all the different medicines you can think of and then read the information below. 


One medicine might be a pink liquid, another medicine might come in a special mist, another might be a blue pill, and still another might come out of a yellow tube. But they're all used for the same purpose — to make you feel better when you're sick.


Most medicines today are made in laboratories and many are based on things found in nature. After a medicine is created, it is tested over and over in many different ways. This lets scientists make sure it's safe for people to take and that it can fight or prevent an illness.

Some new medicines actually are new versions of old medicines that have been improved to help people feel better quicker.


Most of the time when kids get sick, the illness comes from germs that get into the body. The body's immune system works to fight off these invaders. But the germs and the body's natural way of germ fighting, like getting a fever, can make a person feel ill. In many cases, the right kind of medicine can help kill the germs and help the person feel better.


When deciding which medicine to give a patient, a doctor thinks about what is causing the patient's problem. Someone may need to take more than one type of medicine at the same time — one to fight off an infection and one to help the person feel better, for example.

When it comes to fighting illnesses, there are many types of medicines. Antibiotics are one type of medicine that a lot of kids have taken. Antibiotics kill germs called bacteria, and different antibiotics can fight different kinds of bacteria. So if your doctor found out that streptococcal bacteria were causing your sore throat, he or she could prescribe just the right antibiotic.


But while the antibiotic is starting to fight the bacteria, you might still feel achy and hot, so the doctor might tell your parent to also give you a pain reliever. Pain relievers can't make you well, but they do help you feel better while you're getting well.


Cream that helps a bug bite stop itching is another example. Your cold had to go away on its own, just like the bug bite needed to heal on its own, but in the meantime, these medicines helped you feel less sick or itchy.


Many people also take medicines to control illnesses that don't completely go away, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. With help from these medicines, people can enjoy life and avoid some of the worst symptoms of their illnesses.


Finally, there are important medicines that keep people from getting sick in the first place. Some of these are called vaccines and they are usually given as a shot. They prevent people from catching serious illnesses like measles and mumps and, more recently, Coronavirus. There is even a vaccine that prevents chickenpox, and many people get a flu shot each Autumn to avoid the flu. Although shots are never fun, they are a very important part of staying healthy.


Watch the video below to help you learn more about using medicines safely. 

For Kids 5-8 Years Old: Using and Keeping Medicine Safe



1. Imagine you have been to the doctor and they have given you some medicine. Write a list of dos and don'ts for taking this medicine. For example:



  • Take your medicine as it will make you feel better.



  • Share this medicine with anyone, even if they have the same symptoms as you. 


2. Write a list of all the people who might handle medicines, for example, a doctor. 

Next, using the sheet below, consider all the precautions they have to take when handling medicines. A precaution is a measure someone has to take to stop something dangerous from happening. 


Finally watch the video below of Michael Rosen's poem, 'These are the Hands'. How many healthcare roles can you identify when you listen to this poem? 

These are the Hands | For the NHS | By Michael Rosen