Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness.
A spoon, a spoon, what’s the difference? It’s a spoon. Well, in medicine, as in baking, it’s a big difference. The teaspoon and tablespoon that came with that dinner set aren’t accurate measures. When a prescription says a teaspoon, it means 5 ml, a tablespoon is 15 ml, not more not less. The reason is that too much or too little is bad for you and can be dangerous. Most over the counter cough and cold remedies come with a measured cap as a cup. If you get prescribe liquid medication, ask the pharmacist for a measured cup or spoon so you get the correct amount of medication. This especially important with children, as the article from the NYT notes, most over doses are medication errors. So just as in baking where you use a measuring spoon so the cake rises as it bakes, use a measured spoon or cup to take liquid medication.
Spooning Up the Wrong Dose
Many people still use kitchen spoons to measure a dose of liquid medication. Now new research shows that the size of the spoon influences our ability to estimate the right dose – and most of the time, we get it wrong.
A 1992 study of dosing errors reported to poison control centers found that failing to distinguish between teaspoons and tablespoons was a major cause for overdosing of cough and cold medicines and liquid acetaminophen. Although too much cough medicine is typically not a major health worry, many liquid medications contain acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. Acetaminophen overdose is a major health concern and can lead to serious illness, liver failure and even death. And while small dosing errors may not seem like a major concern, excessive doses can add up and make it relatively easy to exceed the recommended daily limit, now four grams.
Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab have conducted several studies showing how large plate size, oversize ice-cream bowls and wide-rimmed drinking glasses can lead to overindulgence of foods and beverages. Given that so many parents use kitchen spoons to dispense liquid medication, the researchers decided to study how the size of a spoon influenced the amount of medication poured.
As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.
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