This leaflet is about the use of sodium bicarbonate for acidosis (too much acid in the body).
This leaflet has been written specifically for parents and carers about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
Severe acidosis causes sickness, fast breathing and bad breath, although not all children have these symptoms.
Sodium bicarbonate is an alkali (the opposite to an acid). It decreases the acid level in your child’s body and so reduces acidosis.
Give the medicine at about the same times each day so that this becomes part of your child’s routine, which will help you to remember.
Your doctor will work out the amount of sodium bicarbonate (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.
Capsules should be swallowed with a glass of water, milk or juice. Your child should not chew the capsule.
You can open the capsule and mix the contents with a small amount of soft food such as yogurt, honey or jam. Make sure your child swallows it straight away, without chewing.
Tablets should be swallowed with a glass of water, milk or juice. Your child should not chew the tablets. You can crush the tablet and mix it with a small amount of soft food such as yogurt, honey or jam. Make sure your child swallows it straight away, without chewing.
Liquid medicine: Shake the medicine well. Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe or a medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.
Sodium bicarbonate starts to work straight away. Any symptoms of acidosis should improve after 1-2 days (although many children do not have symptoms).
If your child is sick again, seek advice from your GP, pharmacist or hospital. They will decide what to do based on your child’s condition and the specific medicine involved.
If you usually give it twice a day: If you remember up to 6 hours after you should have given a dose, give your child the missed dose. For example, if you usually give a dose at about 7 am, you can give the missed dose at any time up to 1 pm. If you remember after that time, do not give the missed dose. Wait until the next normal dose.
If you normally give it more than twice a day: If you miss a dose, wait until the next normal dose. Do not give the missed dose.
If you think you may have given your child too much sodium bicarbonate, contact your doctor or local NHS services (111 in England and Scotland; 0845 4647 in Wales) or take your child to hospital as they may have too much alkaline in their body.
Take the medicine container or packet with you, even if it is empty. This will be useful to the doctor. Have the packet with you if you telephone for advice.
We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side-effects).
Sodium bicarbonate does not usually cause unwanted effects (side-effects) when taken by mouth.
If your child becomes short of breath, and their face becomes puffy, contact your doctor straight away, as the amount of sodium may be too high. Do not give your child any more sodium bicarbonate until your doctor tells you to.
There may, sometimes, be other side-effects that are not listed above. If you notice anything unusual and are concerned, contact your doctor. You can report any suspected side-effects to a UK safety scheme at http://www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard.
Your child’s doctor or pharmacist will be able to give you more information about sodium bicarbonate and other medicines used to treat acidosis.
Version 2, January 2014. © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild 2010, all rights reserved. Reviewed by: January 2017.
The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website, www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk
We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.