Paracetamol for Kids: How To Give, Uses, Dosages & Side Effects

Paracetamol Dosage for Children – A Guide for Parents

It is common practice to take a dose of paracetamol as a quick relief method for fever, headache or other pain. Most parents carry on this practice for their children when they have a temperature or complain of minor pain. In some cases, paracetamol is kept on hand for any emergencies, and parents may think it is okay to give their kids a tablet when they are in discomfort. But, before you can administer paracetamol to children, it is best to understand the appropriate dosage for kids. It is also ideal to get approval from your child’s doctor before you give paracetamol to your child. Here is everything you should know about giving paracetamol to your child.

Is Paracetamol Safe for Children?

When used in the right dosage, paracetamol is considered safe for children. Many doctors also prefer prescribing medicine as a treatment for fever or pain. Consult your doctor for the appropriate paracetamol dose for children.

When and How Often Should You Give Paracetamol to Your Child?

You can give paracetamol to your child if he has fever, headaches, and aches in the body. Fever caused due to a shot may also be reduced with a dose of paracetamol.

The right dosage of medicine can be given to your child once in six hours, up to four times within 24 hours. Under no circumstances should you exceed the recommended dosage. If your child does not respond to the medicine, consult a doctor for a further course of treatment.

How to Give Paracetamol to Your Child?

Paracetamol is available in the form of tablets, syrups or suppositories, which are each taken differently.

1. Syrups

Shake the bottle well and pour out the right dosage with the spoon, cup or dropper that comes with it. In case there isn’t a spoon, ask the pharmacist for a measuring spoon. Never use a normal spoon to measure out the syrup, as you will miss the right dosage.

2. Tablets

Paracetamol tablets should be swallowed whole with water, milk or juice. They shouldn’t be chewed.

3. Suppositories

Suppositories are small plugs of the medicine that are designed to be inserted into the anus. This is ideal for kids who vomit after taking a tablet or have difficulty swallowing. You will need to follow the instructions provided on how to insert them.

Paracetamol Dosage for Children

While the dosage of paracetamol can relieve fever and pain, the wrong dosage may potentially be fatal. Here are the age-wise dosage details for kids.

1. Paracetamol Syrup Dosages

Paracetamol dosage for infants is best given in the form of syrup or suppositories in accordance with their weight, as paracetamol syrups come in different strengths. A maximum of 3-4 doses of paracetamol for babies within two to three months may be given under consultation from a doctor.

2. Paracetamol Tablet Dosages

Kids over the age of six can be given paracetamol in the form of a tablet. The chart below lists the dosage of the paracetamol tablet that is right for kids as per their age.

Age Dosage (maximum 4 doses in 24 hours)
6 to 8 years 250mg
8 to 10 years 375mg
10 to 12 years 500mg
12 to16 years 750mg

3. Before Every Dose

Before you give your child another dose, you should always check your child’s symptoms to see if he really needs it. Also, wait for at least four hours after the previous dose before giving another dose. Do not give more than four doses within a 24 hour period.Keep a track of the time you give the dose and the number of doses given.

How Long Does it Take for Paracetamol to Work?

The effect of paracetamol is different in different people. However, generally, it takes around one to three hours to work after the medicine is taken.

How to Store Paracetamol?

It is important that you store drugs like paracetamol safely and with added caution.

  • Keep it out of the reach and sight of children
  • Lock it in a cupboard or a box
  • Do not keep it in the refrigerator, as it does not need to be chilled
  • Ask your pharmacist for a child-resistant cap for syrup bottles

These practices can prevent children from having access to paracetamol and accidentally consuming it.

Side Effects of Paracetamol

If given in the right doses, paracetamol rarely causes any side effects. In some cases, children can have an allergic reaction to the medicine, which may cause

  • Skin rashes with red blisters that are swollen and itchy. Skin peeling may also occur
  • Heaviness or discomfort in the chest and the throat
  • Trouble breathing and speaking
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, lips, throat, etc

There are other side effects of the drug, like

  • Increase in heart rate
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Liver and kidney damage due to overdose

Disclaimer: If your child has an allergic reaction, take him to your doctor or call the doctor as soon as possible.

How to Keep a Record of the Dosage?

To keep a record of paracetamol dosage for kids, you’ll need your phone or a piece of paper. Make a table that has the following headings:

  • Date 
  • Time
  • Child’s weight
  • Strength of dosage given

Make sure you log this information in the table every time you give your child paracetamol, to ensure it is within limits.

Precautions to Prevent Accidental Overdose

You will need to take all the necessary precautions in order to ensure that your child does not overdose on paracetamol. Here are a few things that you can keep in mind in order to avoid any complications caused by an accidental overdose.

  • Never combine paracetamol with any other drugs like ibuprofen without consulting with a doctor.
  • Always check for the expiration date of the drug to avoid poisoning. Do not use the tablet if it has passed its expiration date.
  • Keep the medicines out of your child’s reach to avoid accidental consumption.
  • Carefully note down the time and the number of dosages given to your child to prevent repeating the dosage.

Where Should You Keep Paracetamol in the House?

There are certain precautions you should take when storing paracetamol at home to ensure it is not tampered with and out of reach of children. Here are some storing tips to follow.

  • Keep it in a clean, dry place.
  • There’s no need to store it in the fridge, as paracetamol need not be chilled.
  • Store it in a higher place where it is out of sight of your kids.
  • You can also store it in a locked or latched cupboard.
  • If possible, ask your pharmacist for a child-resistant cap.

Paracetamol Vs Ibuprofen: Which is Better to Treat Fever?

Both drugs are equally effective in treating fever in children; however, paracetamol is largely preferred due to various reasons. Since paracetamol has been in use for longer than ibuprofen, there is substantial data to indicate its effectiveness.

Also, while paracetamol poses a risk of liver and kidney damage in case of an overdose, ibuprofen may cause gut and kidney problems in kids even when given at the right dosage. Especially children who are dehydrated or have other medical conditions are at a higher risk of kidney damage with ibuprofen.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If your child has had an overdose and shows symptoms like nausea, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, vomiting, extreme sleepiness, or has yellow skin or eyes, you will need to call the doctor immediately.

FAQs

1. How Long Can Your Child Take Paracetamol?

You can give your child paracetamol every 4-6 hours or as recommended by the doctor. Do not give more than 6 doses within 24 hours. Make sure you follow this rule to ensure there are no side-effects.

2. Is It Safe to Give Paracetamol to Kids Under 2-Years Old?

You can give your child paracetamol in the form of syrups starting from 2 months. Avoid giving paracetamol tablets if your child is less than 6 years of age.

Paracetamol is a household drug and has rarely caused long-lasting side effects. However, as an accidental overdose may be fatal, especially to children, it is always recommended to consult a doctor before giving your child the medicine.

Disclaimer: Drugs like paracetamol should only be given to kids after proper consultation with a doctor about the dosage to be administered.

References/Resources:

1. Paracetamol for children (Calpol); NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/paracetamol-for-children/

2. Lawton. V, Palkar. A, Anderson. L, et al.; Paracetamol (acetaminophen) use in infants and children was never shown to be safe for neurodevelopment: a systematic review with citation tracking; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9056471/; 2022

3. How and when to give paracetamol for children; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/paracetamol-for-children/how-and-when-to-give-paracetamol-for-children/.; June 2022

4. Fever; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759; May 2022

5. Fever in Babies and Children: When To Worry; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/kids-fevers-when-to-worry-when-to-relax/; September 2022

Also Read: Medication That Can Cause Poisoning in Kids

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