Paracetamol Dosage for Children – A Guide for Parents

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Paracetamol

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 even for their children when they have a temperature or complain of minor pain. But, before you can administer paracetamol to children, it is best to understand the right dosage that is appropriate for kids. It is also ideal to get approval from your child’s doctor before you give 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 the medicine as a treatment for fever or pain.

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 every four to six hours, up to 4 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 as tablets, syrups or suppositories, which are taken differently.

  1. Syrup

Shake the bottle well and pour out the right dosage with the spoon, cup or syringe 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

The right dosage of the syrup is listed in the chart below. Paracetamol dosage for infants is best given in the form of syrup or suppositories in accordance with their age.

Age Type of syrup Dosage (maximum 4 doses in 24 hours)
3 to 6 months Infant 2.5ml
6 to 24 months Infant 5ml
2 to 4 years Infant 7.5ml
4 to 6 years Infant 10ml
6 to 8 years Six-plus 5ml
8 to 10 years Six-plus 7.5ml
10 to 12 years Six-plus 10ml

 

A maximum of 2 doses of paracetamol for babies within 2 to 3 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 4 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. The symptoms like temperature and pain may have reduced before this.

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 the children
  • Lock it away 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 the syrup bottles

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

Side Effects

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 the call the doctor within delay.

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.

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.

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.

Also Read: Paracetamol Intake During Pregnancy