Double the Dose

Updated: May 19, 2020

When I was little, I was unusually susceptible to colds and seasonal flu. If a seasonal influenza happened to circulate anywhere in my vicinity, it was almost certain that I would be one of its victims.

After spending so much time being sick, I was no stranger to cold medicine. My medicinal intake was largely monitored by my mother, who had quite a few peculiar traditions when it came to taking cold medicines. For example, she always told me to double the recommended quantity for the initial dose of the cold medicine, and then proceed to follow the guidelines. When I missed one dose by accident, she would scold me and tell me that I had missed “the next three doses” too. It was so commonplace during my childhood that I thought it was what everyone’s mother did. So when one of my friends fell sick during a high school trip, I told her to take double the initial dose. I was surprised when she responded with a perplexed, “But why?”

It was the first time anyone has questioned me about my mother’s doctrine, and I didn’t have an explanation for the recommendation so it ended up being two confused people staring at each other in a hotel room. After that, I began to think that perhaps my mother’s actions were unfounded since no one else appeared to have heard of her habits.

This year, we had a lecture related to pharmacology in cellular biology during which the professor discussed the idea of a “loading dose”, a high initial dose given at the beginning of a treatment. He also mentioned that for drugs with lower “forgiveness”, missing one dose could be equivalent to missing the next three doses. When I heard these two ideas, I was completely amazed, since they seemed strangely similar to what my parents told me. Perhaps my mother’s actions were not entirely whimsical. Even though I am still not certain whether her actions were scientifically accurate since these ideas are not applicable for all drugs, it is interesting to see potential applications of class content that I did not recognize at first.

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