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Helping Your Child Take Blood Thinners Safely: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots and keep them from growing bigger. They don't actually thin the blood. They slow down the time it takes for a blood clot to form. Blood thinners also keep existing blood clots from getting bigger. Your doctor may call these medicines anticoagulants.

Your child may take this medicine as a pill. Or the blood thinner may be given as a shot.

Blood thinners can make a child more likely to bleed. But they can also save lives. With care, you can help prevent bleeding and keep your child safe while letting him or her play and be active.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • If your child misses a dose of medicine, don't give an extra dose to make up for it. Your doctor can tell you what to do so you don't give too much or too little.
  • Talk to the doctor before you start or stop giving your child any medicines, vitamins, or natural health products. Medicines may affect how blood thinners work.
  • Ask your pharmacist how to store the blood thinner.
  • Have your child wear medical alert jewellery. This lets others know that your child takes a blood thinner.
  • Tell your child's doctors, dentist, and pharmacist that your child is taking a blood thinner. Also tell the people who care for your child, such as relatives, babysitters, and the school nurse. Let them know what to do if your child has a cut or bruise and when to call for help.
  • If your child takes heparin, learn how to give a shot. Ask your doctor for instructions.
  • If your child takes warfarin:
    • Keep the amount of vitamin K in your child's diet about the same from day to day. Vitamin K affects how warfarin works and how the blood clots. It is in many foods, such as leafy greens, green vegetables, and vegetable oils.
    • Take your child to the doctor for scheduled blood tests. These tests check how long it takes the blood to form a clot. The doctor may adjust your child's dose of warfarin based on the results.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passed out (lost consciousness).
  • Your child has signs of severe bleeding, such as:
    • A severe headache that is different from past headaches.
    • Vomiting blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
    • Passing maroon or very bloody stools.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has unexpected bleeding, including:
    • Blood in stools or black stools that look like tar.
    • Blood in his or her urine.
    • Bruises or blood spots under the skin.
  • Your child feels dizzy or light-headed.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.