It's no secret children hate taking medication, especially chewable pills or liquids with an "icky" taste. Even some pediatric medications that are made to taste appealing to children can still have a bitter aftertaste. Luckily, advances in technology can help create a better experience for those who find that a spoonful of sugar isn't all you need to help the medicine go down.
The concept of taste masking is not a new one, but there are many current pharma solutions in the works to ensure your children have less difficulty stomatching their medication. Taste masking, as you may assume, is the process of masking bitter or unappealing flavors with sweeteners and flavors to improve the flavor profile of a medication. Another way to prevent a yucky flavor from entering your child's mouth is by coating pills with a barrier so the unappetizing flavor doesn't make its way through before swallowing. There are a variety of methods pharmaceutical companies use to improve the taste experience, as well as the mouthfeel, also known as the texture, of a medication, which can be just as important when getting your little one to take their medicine.
As parents, we may think of children as just being fussy or picky eaters. The truth is that children are biologically inclined to have a distaste for bitterness and a preference of sweet over salty, which is why taste masking for children is different than it may be for adults. Studies show that sweet flavors mask bitterness better than sodium salts, which is preferable for adults. Getting these formulas right for children can save lives, and save parents a lot of stress and hassle.
It's important to remember, as well, that swallowing a coated pill is just not possible for young children, as it can be an extreme choking hazard. Even older children who are able to safely swallow medication may have an aversion to the process, making the available coated pills or capsules useless when treating diseases or ailments.
As mentioned, studies show that children are better with sweetener as a flavor masker than salt, which is preferable to adults. That's why bubble gum tends to be a common taste masking flavor in the pediatric pharmaceutical industry. If you're taste masking at home, try giving children a spoonful of chocolate syrup before administering oral medication. Chocolate is one of the few fairly universal choices that effectively cut bitterness. Peanut butter is also a popular solution, because of how powerful the peanut flavor is. It is, however, difficult to find universally appealing flavors for children due to preference and cultural differences. Hopefully, with research and advances in technology, we can continue to create solutions that improve the lives of children and parents alike.
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