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Which one to choose, paracetamol or ibuprofen?

Popularity 5Viewed 2255 times 2015-2-13 04:52 |Personal category:Growing with my daughter|System category:Life| fever, paracetamol, ibuprofen

Nicole has suffered from two times of consecutive flu virus infection since the beginning of this February. Therefore she has been stayed with me and didn’t go to her daycare.

 

The first time infection resulted in a series of symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, a mild fever in the daytime, and a higher body temperature at night. All these signs showed to me that she was having a gastric flu and I simply gave her relevant medical care at home. She was given Perenterol™ syrup twice a day for adjusting the bacterial strains in her internal digestive system. As to the fever, since it was usually mild in the daytime (below 38.5 Celsius degrees) and it seemed that she was doing well with her routine activities, I didn't do anything, while just let her exercise her immune system. However in the night, when her body temperature increased a bit, I gave her a suppository dose of paracetamol for reducing the fever to help her with a sound sleep through the whole night.

 

The strategy worked effectively. Although tired and not feeling well, she kept a happy mood in general. After three days, the fever was gone and five days later, her eating and drinking gradually went back to normal.

 

Unluckily, her daddy's back home from a short conference trip one day later launched a second round of battle against flu for the whole family, especially for Nicole. Her daddy got sick during the trip, thus she was infected again consequently, and even more serious this time. The second day since her daddy's arrival, the fever returned in all of a sudden. This time she suffered a high fever (around 39 celsius degrees) lasting for a long time, day and night. I gave her the suppository paracetamol every 6 hours, but once she sweated all over and the temperature decreased, her hands and feet would become unusually cool, which was an beginning of a second round of fever. Paracetamol failed to work this time. After 36 hours of tedious struggling, I called the children's hospital and made an appointment with the professional pediatricians, walked in the emergency department to have an overall checkup for her by doctors. The result turned out to be comforting. She was OK except for the fever, and it was believed to be another flu virus infection different from the previous one. Symptoms also varied—a high fever, runny nose, and probably there is a headache. The doctor prescribed another fever reducer, a syrup dose of ibuprofen for children below 6 years old. She recommended a time interval of every 6-8 hours between two intakes, and told me that normally the fever would go in two to three days, if not, we need to come back again for another checkup.

 

The good thing is that after two times giving of the oral ibuprofen, Nicole’s fever was gone and she is now getting better and better. Although still tired and sleepy, she is almost healthy now.

 

Here I'd like to talk more about which medicine to give to your child when she has a favor. First of all, the priority should be kept to a doctor's advice. But how about in the case that a doctor is not available, saying that in the case a fever starts in the midnight? We all know that it is common. Then what can you do with your home medical box?

 

For young children, only two kinds of pain relivers and fever reducers on the market should be considered: paracetamol and ibuprofen. For many years, paracetamol was the first choice, then over-the-counter (OTC) ibuprofen became available, and it is slightly more powerful and longer lasting (with doing every 6 to 8 hours compared to every 4 to 6 hours with paracetamol). Paracetamol for infants is widely available as a suppository form that can come in handy when a child with a gastric flu needs to take fever medication but is vomiting. Ibuprofen is more widely available in liquid syrup form. It should be given only to children older than six months, and it should never be given to children who are dehydrated or vomiting continuously or who have abdominal pain.

 

A few side effects of both drugs when used properly though:

Paracetamol: although it is considered safe when used as recommended, taking it regularly for longer than a week at a time can be dangerous (a large overdose can cause fatal liver damage).

Ibuprofen: the biggest drawback of it is the potential for stomach irritation. Give the medicine with a meal or drink would be better.

 

Combination therapy with the two drugs is not recommended.

A long-term practice of alternating doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen to treat fever in children has been considered to be harmful (kidney problems have been reported).

 

I hope that the experience and the pieces of information above will be useful to parents with young children at home. And always follow the instructions on the label and advice from the doctor. For the sake of safety, when we are not using the medicines, keep them safely locked away, out of the reach of babies and children. This is also an important note and reference for myself. 

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(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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