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How to Use Liquid Medications

Liquid medications include products such as solutions, suspensions, syrups, and elixirs. These prescription and nonprescription products are mostly used for children, but may also be taken by adults who have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules. Some medications are only available as liquids.

Measurement of liquid medications

Be sure you know the exact dose and amount of liquid you are to use for each dose. For nonprescription products, it is best to use a child’s weight to determine the dose, rather than a child’s age, especially for young children.

Liquid medications are usually measured in millileters (mL), teaspoons (tsp), or tablespoons (Tbsp).

Read the abbreviations used in dosage directions carefully. Note that abbreviations for teaspoons and tablespoons are similar.

Liquid Measurement
Abbreviation commonly used
teaspoon tsp
tablespoon Tbsp or TBSP
milliliter mL, mL, mLs

This comparison shows how to convert a measurement from teaspoon or tablespoon to milliliters.

Liquid Measurement
1/2 teaspoon = 2.5 mL
1 teaspoon = 5 mL
1/2 tablespoon = 7.5 mL
1 tablespoon = 15 mL

Do not confuse dosage instructions for teaspoons and tablespoons. A tablespoon contains 3 times the amount of liquid as a teaspoon and could result in an overdose if used by mistake.