My 9-year-old has a concussion. If you knew him, you might be surprised it's his first one. The child never sits still. He has boundless energy and is the one you find jumping from the top of the playground equipment and landing on his feet every time. He scares his teachers and after-school workers with his fearlessness. I’m used to it. In fact, he says he wants to be a stuntman when he grows up, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what he actually ends up doing.

Recovering From a Concussion

But, he couldn’t avoid a rogue ball that hit him the head, and he now has a concussion. My son — who can land on his feet when jumping off a 10-foot-tall jungle gym — can’t walk down the steps right now without getting dizzy and falling. He’ll recover, but until he does, he has to avoid anything that might cause him to fall and hit his head (like walking down the stairs) and any “brain work.” No homework. No video games. No reading. The only thing he likes better than jumping from heights is curling up in bed at night with a book. It’s going to be an interesting recovery.

He’s a very high-energy child, but when he eats or drinks something with artificial dye (particularly red dye) he becomes a hyper child. When the doctor told us to buy acetaminophen to help with the sharp ache in the back of his head, I knew I had to buy a dye-free version. Imagine giving medicine that causes hyperactivity to a child who has been told he must sit still — especially when the ingredient that causes hyperactivity is unnecessary.

The pharmacist had to help me search the shelves for a bottle of acetaminophen that wasn’t dyed red or purple. We eventually found a bottle that was in a separate section from most of the children’s medicines.

Why Is There So Much Dye?

Why are children’s medicines dyed with colors that cause hyperactivity? It’s crazy. The color adds nothing but eye appeal. It doesn’t add to any of the active ingredients. It doesn’t add any flavor. It’s harmful.

Most children’s liquid medicines are made in dye-free version, but it’s not always easy to find them. Not every pharmacy or store carries them. The store I went to didn’t carry the leading brand in a dye-free version.

When you buy over-the-counter medications for your children, do you make sure they’re dye-free? Do you ask the pharmacist for assistance if you can’t find it? It may seem like a small thing. You’re only giving your child about two teaspoons of the medication at a time. But, these dyes are unnecessary. In the short term, they can affect your child’s mood and activity level. In the long term, they can affect your child’s overall health.

If you ever find that your pharmacy or store does not carry a child’s medicine in a dye-free version, let someone know. If you don’t speak up, the store won’t know that it’s important to you.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Why aren't all children's medicines dye-free?
After digging through the over-the-counter medication aisles to find a dye-free pain reliever for her son, our food blogger wonders, why is the dye is there to