Paracetamol For Children: Uses, Dosage, And Side-effects

Reviewed by Dr. Somendra Shukla
MBBS, DNB (Pediatrics), MRCPCH (UK), Fellow Neonatology
Dr Shukla is the head of the department of neonatology at W Pratiksha Hospital, Gurgaon.

Paracetamol For Children

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Thirteen-year-old Tricia came back home from school with a fever. She was feeling tired and had a headache as well. Tricia’s mom gave her some soup and a paracetamol tablet before bed.

Like Tricia’s mom, a lot of parents rely on paracetamol to treat fever or pain in children. Chances are that you always have a strip or a bottle of paracetamol in your medicine cabinet. But is that a good idea? Should we give our kids as much paracetamol as we do? Here, MomJunction talks about paracetamol for children, the right dosage, and the side-effects that you should be aware of.

Is Paracetamol Safe For Kids?

Paracetamol is an analgesic available over the counter under many brand names including Tylenol, Calpol and Panadol in the US and Crocin and Paracip in India.

When administered in the right doses, it can help in treating a number of ailments. People have been using paracetamol for several years to treat pain caused due to an injury or an illness.

In fact, it is the first line of treatment preferred by doctors and parents to treat fever and pain (1). The drug is well tolerated by the children of all ages and has few or no side-effects when used in the recommended doses.

So when should you give paracetamol to your child?

Paracetamol is commonly used for:

  • Fever: A dose of just 10-15mg of paracetamol can cause the temperature to drop. However, doctors may recommend against using the medicine for low fevers (temperatures below 101 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Headaches: Sometimes, a high temperature can cause body pains, headache and general discomfort in the child. A paracetamol dose can help reduce the fever and alleviate the symptoms. The drug usually reduces the severity of the pain, but does not remove it.

[ Read: Causes Of Headaches In Children ]

  • Aches in the body can also be alleviated with the help of paracetamol. By alleviating body pains, headaches, toothache or tummy pain, the drug also helps your child get a good night’s sleep.
  • Symptoms of cold or flu reduce when you give the child paracetamol. However, you cannot treat a common cold or flu with the drug.
  • A fever is a common side-effect of immunization. If the child gets a vaccine shot, your doctor may recommend paracetamol to bring down the temperature.
  • Pain caused due to a sprain in the body can also be reduced with paracetamol.

If the child has a high fever or unbearable pain in the body, paracetamol may not help. Even if a mild fever or pain does not mitigate after taking paracetamol, take the child to the doctor.

Paracetamol Dosage For Children

When taken in the right doses, paracetamol can provide relief from pain and reduce fever. But did you know that the wrong dosage of a common, household drug like paracetamol can be fatal?

Before you use the drug for fever, you should know how much of it you can give to the child in a day. Keep reading to know about the age-appropriate paracetamol dose for the child.

Paracetamol for infants and babies

You can also give paracetamol for babies aged three months or older. The dosage (2) you need to give depends on the age of the baby. The ideal option here would be the paracetamol suppository for babies, rather than tablets or syrups. However, it is best to take the doctor’s advice:

Child’s Age 3-6 months6-24 months
Dose60mg120mg
Oral Suspension/Syrup2.5ml5ml

DO NOT give paracetamol to infants aged less than three months unless recommended by the pediatrician. Always make sure you give no more than the prescribed dosage.

Paracetamol for toddlers and younger kids

Toddlers are vulnerable and can get a fever due to strain, exposure to hot or cold climates, or when they get an immunization shot. During such times, you can give the child a dose of paracetamol to bring down the fever. Use this chart as a reference and also talk to your doctor before you give the child this medicine.

Age 2-4 years4-6 years
Dose180mg240mg
Oral Suspension(120mg/5ml)7.5ml10ml

The medicine should be given in four separate doses in 24 hours.

[ Read: Ibuprofen For Kids ]

Paracetamol for children above six years

Unfortunately, most parents do not pay attention to the dosage recommendations nor do they consult their doctors. This can lead to paracetamol overdosing even in children.

Here is a reference chart that you can use when you need to give the child this analgesic (3).

Approximate Age 6-8 years8-10 years10-12 years

Dose

240-250mg360-375mg480-500mg
Oral Suspension(250mg/5ml)5ml7.5ml10ml

Paracetamol for teens

Teens and older children are given adult doses of paracetamol. So, for teenagers, you can give one tablet of 200mg. Make sure that the dosage is as prescribed by the doctor to prevent overdosing.

Side-Effects Of Paracetamol

Side-effects are uncommon, but when they happen they may require medical attention. Here are some of them:

  • An allergic reaction like a rash or swelling.
  • Flushing, blood pressure change and an increase in heartbeat.
  • Long-term effects of blood disorders such as leukopenia and thrombocytopenia.
  • An overdose of paracetamol can lead to liver and kidney damage, which can be fatal in some cases.

Besides these, if you see any unusual symptoms in the child after using paracetamol, take him or her to the doctor immediately.

[ Read: Skin Rashes In Children ]

Precautions To Prevent Paracetamol Poisoning

As paracetamol is one of the most commonly used drugs in a house, chances of overdosing or poisoning are high if you don’t pay attention to the dosage. Here are some of the precautions you must take to prevent an accidental overdose.

  • Do not combine paracetamol and ibuprofen or any other medication, unless specifically directed by the doctor.
  • Given that we always have stock of paracetamol at home, we could end up with expired medications. So always check for the expiry date on the strip or bottle before using it. If the date of expiry is not visible or not mentioned, do not use it.
  • Do not take the tablet out of the foil or pour the syrup into the spoon or cup until the child is ready to take medicine.
  • Always keep the paracetamol tablets out of your children’s reach.
  • To avoid confusion, always make a note of the doses of paracetamol given to the child during the day.There should be a gap of at least six hours between doses. Do not give more than four doses a day. If your child’s fever or pain becomes worse or doesn’t recede even after 48 hours of taking the paracetamol, visit the doctor immediately.

Do you have any information to share on paracetamol for kids? Do share them with our readers here.

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Sagari Gongala

Sagari is a math graduate and studied counseling psychology in postgraduate college, which she uses to understand people better. This skill also helps her write better articles about kids and their behavior. She is meticulous in her research and gives you information that could be the ultimate help you’ll need in times of need. An animal lover, vegan, and coffee addict, Sagari puts her mind and soul into whatever she does. During her free time, you'll find her either rescuing a sick/injured animal with a friend, or glued to her couch watching Sons Of Anarchy on Netflix.
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