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Paracetamol and ibuprofen

Paracetamol

Paracetamol (often called Calpol) can be used for pain relief. For example it can be used for headaches, pain after an injury and to help reduce temperatures. Fever is a normal response to infection, so when children have an infection temperatures may come back when the medicine wears off.

In what forms can paracetamol be bought?

Paracetamol comes in syrup, drops, suppositories, soluble tablets and ordinary tablets.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are available on prescription, can be dispensed by pharmacists as part of the pharmacy minor ailments scheme and can also be bought from shops and chemists.

How often and how much paracetamol should I give my child?

Do not give your child more than 4 doses of paracetamol in 24 hours. Wait at least 4 hours between doses.

Follow the instructions on the packaging which will tell you how much to give at different ages. The amount to give changes as children get older so check that you are giving the right amount.

You can also use this link to the NHS website to work out the correct amount for your child.

There are different strengths of paracetamol available, so you must make sure you are using the correct strength for your child’s age. Ask your pharmacist for advice if you are not sure.

Paracetamol should not be given to children under 2 months of age unless prescribed by your doctor.

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen (also called Nurofen, Calprofen and Brufen) is a common painkiller for children. It is a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It also treats inflammation, such as aches and pains after an injury like a sprain. It can also be used to bring down a high temperature

In what forms can ibuprofen be bought?

Ibuprofen comes in liquid syrup, tablets, granules and gel.

How often and how much ibuprofen should I give to my child?

Do not give your child more than 3 doses of ibuprofen in 24 hours. Wait at least 6 hours between doses.

You should follow the instructions on the packaging which will tell you how much to give at different ages. The amount to give changes as children get older so check that you are giving the right amount.

You can also use this link to the NHS website to work out the correct amount for your child.

Cautions and side effects of ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is safe in children, but it can cause nausea, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness and occasionally bleeding from the stomach.

Do not exceed the prescribed dose. Check that your child is not receiving any other medication which contains ibuprofen.

Information:

Use ibuprofen cautiously if your child is asthmatic, has a history of stomach ulcers or has kidney, liver or heart problems. Inform a doctor if they are not already aware.

Ibuprofen is best avoided in chickenpox and shingles, use paracetamol instead.

Can I give paracetamol and ibuprofen together?

Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be given together but you should stagger them. Each medicine will take between 30 minutes to 1 hour to work. So wait 1 hour after the first medicine and wait to see if they need another medicine. For example, if their temperature still high and they are distressed or pain hasn’t settled, then give the other medicine.

For example, you could give you child paracetamol at 8am, then ibuprofen at 9am and then paracetamol again at 12pm (4 hours after first dose).

Do not given more than 4 doses of paracetamol in 24 hours. Do not give more than 3 doses of ibuprofen in 24 hours.

Further resources

Further information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a pharmacist, your GP or dial 111 for the non –urgent NHS advice service.

NHS.uk paracetamol for children
NHS.uk: ibuprofen for children

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: ED39

Resource Type: Article

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