Colds and illnesses are an inevitable part of childhood, and using the right medication can sometimes be just as confusing for parents as what might be wrong with a child.

From the common flu to an unknown virus, treating symptoms - or knowing when to seek a medical professional's help - can prove to be a challenge. Even medications can sometimes prove to be problematic.

While doctors prescribe the correct dosage for prescription medications for children, over-the-counter medicines differ per child in most cases, pharmacist Erik Grove at Madison Apothecary said.

Parents may choose to treat the common cold with a fever-reducing, over-the-counter medication, but special precautions should be taken to use a children's-strength dosage for children under 12 or under the weight listed on the box of children's medications.

Most children over the age of 12 or over the weight limits described on the box can take adult-strength, over-the-counter medication for most common illnesses or colds.

"It's really just labeling," Grove said of over-the-counter medications, but the dosage levels on the box are what make a difference in children's versus adult-strength medications.

Parents with children under the age of 12 should always read and follow an over-the-counter medication label's instructions for the child's age and weight, he said, or seek additional information about the medicine before giving it to a sick child.

"(It) can't hurt to consult a pharmacist or doctor," Grove said.