Child Health

Paracetamol & Ibuprofen

Paracetamol & Ibuprofen

Contents

  1. What are paracetamol and ibuprofen
  2. The difference between ibuprofen and paracetamol in treating fever in children
  3. Dosage and how often to give it
  4. Combining paracetamol and ibuprofen
  5. Tips on how to administer the drug

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are two of the most common medications found in most households and two of the most common medications used in the treatment of fever, toothache, cold symptoms, and general pain in children. They are known to help relieve the feelings of pain but not eliminate or treat the cause of pain and fever in children.

However, ibuprofen and paracetamol differ in how they work, how fast they work, and how long they last in the body, as well as who they can be given to, and their risk of side effects and interactions with other medicines.

The difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen

Paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) is one of the most frequently used medicines for pain relief in Nigeria and is the main ingredient in most drugs for children. While the exact way paracetamol works is not completely understood, it is believed that it stops the production of prostaglandis (also known as pain messengers)which sends pain signals from the point of infection or pain to the brain, which in turn makes us aware of the pain. By reducing prostaglandis in the brain, paracetamol reduces the amount of pain that one feels.  It can be used to treat mild to moderate pain and fever in children and has only a minimal effect on inflammation (redness, swelling).

Ibuprofen also treats inflammation, such as aches and pains after an injury like a sprain, or because of a health problem like childhood arthritis. It can also be used to being down a high temperature fever.

Ibuprofen 

on the other hand is not only used  to treat mild to moderate fever and pain, but it also reduces inflammation.

For children aged 3 months to 12 years, ibuprofen comes as a liquid syrup.

For children aged 7 years or older, ibuprofen is available as tablets, capsules and granules that you dissolve in water to make a drink

Dosage and how often to give it

You can give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen if you think your child is in pain or has a fever (check our article on fever to know when to see a doctor), but note that It is important to give the correct dose of pain-relieving medicine. Give the dose that is written on the bottle or pack according to your child’s weight.

Older children can most times tell you when they are in pain, but younger children may not. Look out for these signs to known if your child is in pain.

  • Crying or screaming

  • Pulling a face

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns

  • Being quiet and withdrawn

  • Not wanting to move, or not able to get comfortable

Paracetamol Dosage:

  • Paracetamol for children comes in several different strengths: for babies, for young children and for older children.
  • Children must be older than 1 month and weigh more than 4kg
  • Always give the dose that is written on the bottle or packet according to your child’s weight.
  • If your baby or child is taking any other medicine, check that the medicine does not also have paracetamol in it. Do not give more paracetamol if your child has had some in other medicine.

How often can it be given?

  • Paracetamol can be given every four to six hours – no more than four times in 24 hours.
  • If you need to give your child paracetamol for more than 48 hours, you should take them to see a doctor.

Ibuprofen Dosage:

  • Ibuprofen for children comes in several different strengths: for babies, for young children and for older children.
  • Must be older than 3 months and weigh more than 6kg
  • Always give the dose that is written on the bottle or packet according to your child’s weight.

How often can it be given?

  • Doses can be given every six to eight hours, but no more than three times a day.
  • There are some rare but serious side effects that might occur if ibuprofen is given to a child for a long time. If you need to give your child ibuprofen for more than 48 hours, you should take them to see a doctor.

Note: Short-term use of ibuprofen, at appropriate doses, may be taken with a glass of water and no food. If this causes stomach upset, you should try offering your child some food or milk.

Combining paracetamol and ibuprofen

It is safe and OK to alternate between paracetamol and ibuprofen, or even to give both at the same time. Paracetamol and ibuprofen do not react with each other to harm your child. Make sure to consult with a doctor and remember to keep of journal of each dose that your child takes, to avoid over dosage.

If your child spits out drugs, try the following

  • Position your child as you would when nursing
  • Use the syringe provided in the drug pack, place the syringe into the mouth and press the medication between the side of the tongue and the cheek. Do not put directly on the tongue as this makes it easier to spit out.
  • Wait until they swallow that dose before giving them more

  • Make sure they have swallowed it all before laying them down

 

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