A child with a fever is a parent’s worst nightmare. Sleepless nights and cranky moods are just a few things that a feverish children may bring to your home; but how do you know what’s the safest option, and the right dose, for your child?
You’ll find an overwhelming selection of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief for children at your local pharmacy and that is why your pharmacist is such a great source of information.
Just remember that paracetamol can be given from the age of one month; ibuprofen from three months and aspirin should never be provided to children under the age of 16.
How safe are they?
Paracetamol is still the pain relief of choice for reducing pain and fever —mainly due to its proven track record over decades. However there’s still a very real risk of poisoning through overdose, causing jaundice, liver failure and death.
Ibuprofen for children has become more popular over the last decade, although some children will find they experience side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, NSAID-induced asthma and kidney problems, especially if a child is dehydrated (from vomiting, diarrhoea and/or not drinking enough).
The good news is that the risk of overdose or adverse side effects from OTC pain relief is generally very low if they’re used correctly.
Using pain relief safely
When giving fever or pain relief to babies and children, follow these tips to be safe:
Use the right product, strength and dose for the child’s age and weight. Recommended doses, according to the child’s age and weight, are given on the product packaging. Different rules apply to very overweight (obese) children.
Different products, and different forms of a product, may vary in strength, so always read the package carefully for the dosing instructions specific to the product you’re giving.
Don’t keep giving the pain relief for more than 48 hours unless specifically advised to by a doctor.
Use the measuring spoon provided to pour the dose. If one isn’t provided, a metric medicine measure will work.
Make sure the bottle cap is on securely after use, and keep it in a safe place out of the reach of children.
Check labels of all medicines, as paracetamol or ibuprofen can appear as an ingredient in a variety of medications (like cough syrup) and you don’t want to double up.
If you don’t know how to measure or use a product, or if you don’t understand the label, ask your pharmacist for help.