There are basically two kinds of pain medication: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Both will relieve moderate pain and lower almost any fever. They come in liquids and chewable pills, but only Tylenol comes in suppository form. Since acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different chemicals, you can alternate between them or even use them together. The side effects are almost nonexistent with appropriate doses. Both medicines can be given on an empty stomach, since kids aren’t prone to acidity.
It’s Snot the Answer
Neither medication will treat a runny nose or congestion, unless it’s marketed as a cold remedy, in which case it’s supplemented with some additional decongestants, which we don’t recommend.
No More Children’s Aspirin
We no longer give aspirin to kids, for fear of a very rare but serious side effect on the brain called Reye’s syndrome. If your child is experiencing pain or discomfort from a fever, give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen — but make sure it’s the correct dosage for their age and weight (or even a tiny bit more). If you under-medicate, you won’t see the medicine’s miraculous healing effects.
How Often? How Long?
You can safely repeat the acetaminophen dose every four hours; it’s every six with ibuprofen. If needed, you can safely administer these two drugs for several days in a row in the recommended doses, as long as you have addressed the cause of your child’s discomfort or fever. As wonderful as both medications are, they should be used sparingly, not because they don’t work or have side effects, but because they can either suppress symptoms that help an illness run its course or make it trickier to follow the course of an illness. Fever, for example, helps get rid of viruses and may also indicate that an illness is worsening.
The tables below provide recommended dosage charts for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). Here are some important general guidelines for using these products.
Written by njones