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Guide to medicine for children

Guide to medicine for children

You can give your child medication when they're ill, but always get advice and read the dosage instructions first, says our expert, Dr Pixie

Most children don't take any regular medication. As parents, we usually only look for this sort of solution if we need to get a temperature down or deal with some sort of pain.

First medication
This will probably come after your baby's first immunisations, when they are eight weeks old. Ibuprofen and paracetamol in syrup forms, available from pharmacies, provide a safe, fast and effect way to ease pain and fever.

Don't worry if you find your child is overheating, as high temperatures in children are usually signs that the body is fighting an infection. Fevers are usually caused by a viral infection, which means that antibiotics won't make your child any better any faster.

As a rule of thumb, we only tend to treat a temperature if it is causing distress to the child. We tend to adopt the policy ‘treat the child, not the temperature'. This is because the children's medicines we use only ease the symptoms; they don't solve the underlying problem.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen
You can use paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever, with paracetamol the preferred choice. Both can be safely given in most children, but if in doubt, consult your pharmacist. It is also safe to alternate between these medications if your child is very distressed. Always follow manufacturer dosage instructions and ask your local pharmacist if you need any guidance.

Check the dosage
The only crucial factor is that you don't exceed the recommended daily dosage, which is always clearly displayed on a label on the container. To avoid this, all doses should be logged. This will prevent a carer or relative giving a dose without you knowing about it, and therefore prevents dangerous overdosing. Medicines can be given via a spoon or syringe.

Adult medicines are never suitable for children, as there are dangers of overdosing and adverse reactions. Medicines should never be given to babies under the age of three months without a doctor's advice. All medicines, both children's and adult, should be kept out of reach, and thrown away if they are past the sell-by date.

By Dr Pixie

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