A child with a fever is a parent’s worst nightmare. Sleepless nights, cranky moods are just a few things that a feverish child may bring to the home. But how do you know what is the safest option for your child, in the right dose?
You’ll find the selection of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief for children at your local pharmacy is restricted to ibuprofen or Paracetamol, although once you include the huge array of different strengths and product forms there are more than enough products to choose from. Both appear to be equally effective and are very safe, though in Australia paracetamol is slightly more favoured of the two. Paracetamol can be given from the age of one month; ibuprofen from three months. Aspirin should never be provided to children under the age of 16.
Independent consumer group CHOICE tells us that 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. Following CHOICE’s safety tips will help you avoid those risks.
When giving fever or pain relief to babies and children, follow these tips to be safe:
CHOICE has extensive free information for parents on safe ways to administer fever and pain relief to your children, recommended doses by your child’s age and weight as well as useful tips on using analgesia to reduce fever. Find out more from CHOICE about children and painkillers.