There are numerous medicinal products on the market, from ibuprofen and acetaminophen to Tums and chewable laxatives, that look a lot like candy. Even parents may have a hard time telling the difference when the two are sitting side by side. It’s important to educate yourself and your kids about these products to prevent life-threatening ingestion, as anyone who’s every had a toddler can tell you firsthand: they will put anything in their mouth, especially if it looks like a tasty treat.

  • Ex-Lax makes a chocolate flavored laxative that looks almost like a rectangular piece broken off a Hershey’s chocolate candy bar. Ingesting multiple laxatives could result in violent illness including stomach pains, diarrhea and possible dehydration.
  • Gel-centered capsules like Excedrin, Extra Strength Tylenol Capsules and Nyquil capsules could be mistaken for candies like Mike & Ikes and Hot Tamales.
  • Ibuprofen looks a lot like a light brown M&M’s candy.
  • Alka-Seltzer could easily be mistaken for a candy wafer.
  • Tums and other antacid tablets look an awful lot like Spree.
  • Liquid cough medicines look like Kool-Aid in tiny bottles, but could do serious damage if ingested in large quantities. It may raise your child’s heart rate, slow down their breathing and even lead to coma.
  • Chewable and gummy vitamins look and taste just like candy. So much so, you can barely tell the difference when a gummy vitamin is sitting next to a gummy bear on the counter. Ingesting too many vitamins can lead to iron poisoning, so make sure you keep vitamins well out of your child’s reach.
  • Cough drops and lozenges may resemble hard candies, and while they probably won’t do too much damage if they eat a couple, they could pose a dangerous choking risk. Large quantities of cough lozenges containing DXM could lead to painful stomach cramps, vomiting, dizziness and hallucinations, as well as potential liver and kidney damage.

With movies like the popular “Mary Poppins,” in which the nanny tells her charges that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, many parents have resorted to tactics like telling children medicine tastes good like candy. This confuses kids, teaching them to associate medicine taking with candy.

Do your part as a parent and keep drugs out of reach and in childproof containers. You should also remember to never tell your kids medicine tastes like candy. Their health and safety could depend on it.