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Never Use Kitchen Spoons to Measure Medicines! Here’s Why

Medically reviewed by Kristina Campos, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 15, 2022

    Never Use Kitchen Spoons to Measure Medicines! Here’s Why

    Haven’t we all conveniently walked into our kitchen, opened the drawer, and picked up a teaspoon to use for our medicine? We completely ignore or forget the fact that every spoon – teaspoon or tablespoon – is sized differently. You may have taken an overdose or underdose of so many medicines, without even realizing it. It is important to use the right spoons to measure medicines.  

    A unit named as a teaspoon is usually equal to five millimetres and a tablespoon is three times bigger – 15 millimetres. If you have a set of exactly labelled measuring spoons, you would then get the right amount and save yourselves from any medicinal overdose. But what about the soup and cereal spoons we use in our daily lives? Those can be of any size. 

    Research on Kitchen Spoons to Measure Medicines

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends not to make use of kitchen spoons to measure medicines in order to prevent any major overdose or underdose. But researchers show that people still use ordinary teaspoons and tablespoons for themselves as well as their family members. Kids are the most vulnerable to the sid-effects of an overdose. 

    A small study was conducted among 200 university students to pour a 5 ml (equivalent to 1 teaspoon) liquid medicine in various sizes of spoons. The researchers gave the students a bottle full of medicine and asked them to pour 5 ml dose into a 5 ml teaspoon. Moving on with the experiment, the participants were then asked to pour the same 5 ml medicine dose into a medium-sized tablespoon and a 3rd spoon – a little larger than the medium-sized spoon. After pouring medicine into each spoon as asked, they felt confident about their accuracy of pouring exactly 5 ml into each of these different-sized spoons. 

    It was time for results. The researchers checked the quantity poured into each spoon which varied highly. The students poured an overdose by 11.6% when they used the third largest spoon and underdosed by 8.4% with the medium one. All this overdose and underdose mistakes, in spite of being confident of their precision in each case.

    Some Must-Dos to Avoid an Overdose or Underdose

    Other than the non-usage of kitchen spoons, some of the below precautions can help you and your loved ones stay away from taking the wrong doses.

    Learn About the Units and Spoons to Measure Medicines

    In order to avoid the ill-effects of overdose/underdose, learn and understand the units of medicine dosages. Follow the units and consume medicine accordingly. Is it in ml (millilitres), ounces, teaspoon or tablespoon? The doctors use all of these currently. But experts are suggesting to standardize it in ml.

    But, until that happens, take all the measures from your end to verify and check it as many times as needed. 

    Let’s be familiar with ml in teaspoons, tablespoons and ounces. Most of the syringes are in ml.

  • 5 ml – 1 teaspoon
  • 15 ml – 1 tablespoon
  • 30 ml – 1 ounce
  • Clarify the Doses When You Get the Prescription

    Do not hesitate to ask twice if you didn’t understand the exact dose written in the prescription. It is wise to ask twice rather than facing repercussions of an overdose or underdose on the effect of the medicine. Check if there’s a hidden decimal which you might have missed in a hurry. Medicine measuring spoons have certain markings, make sure you check them properly.

    spoons to measure medicines

    Get Medicine Measuring Spoons to Avoid Overdose

    Now that you know why you should use spoons to measure medicines, replace them with a more reliable instrument. It is best to use measuring spoons to avoid overdose or underdose. Let your loved ones not suffer the side effects of an overdose, especially children. Use proper medicinal measuring spoons which comes with large printed numbers and division marks. To avoid overdose, there are dosing cups, syringes, and droppers, too. Visit your nearest pharmacy and look for these measuring tools.

    Learn more about Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Kristina Campos, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 15, 2022

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