Child pain and fever
Ibuprofen (Nurofen) and paracetamol (Pamol) are two of the most commonly used medicines to treat pain and fever in children.
While medicines are not always needed to relieve pain or fever, it's important to know how to provide your child with safe and effective pain relief if it is ever necessary.
Pain and fever are common in children due to a variety of causes including injury, illness, surgery or teething.
You can give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen if they’re distressed or unwell. However, don’t use these medicines just to reduce a fever if your child is otherwise well. Also, don’t give your child both types of medicine, or alternate them. Clinical studies suggest that paracetamol and ibuprofen are similarly effective in treating pain in children.
Fever in children.
If your child has a fever, it means their body temperature is above normal. Around 37ºC is normal. A digital thermometer is the best type to use to get an accurate temperature reading.
A fever is usually a normal response of a child’s immune system to a virus or bacterial infection. Medicines are not always needed to relieve your child's fever – most infants and children can tolerate low-grade fever (eg, 38°–38.5° C) without medicine, and often respond to clear fluids such as water, and comfort.
For more information on fever in children click here: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/fever/fever-children
Paracetamol is one of the most frequently used medicines for pain relief in New Zealand. It can be used to treat mild to moderate pain and fever in children.
Paracetamol may be used if your child needs pain relief or if your child has a fever (temperature over 38.5°C) AND is miserable.
It is not recommended to give paracetamol before or after regular vaccinations unless your child is in pain or is miserable. Do not give paracetamol before vaccinations and only give it after vaccination if your child needs it.
Paracetamol should start to work quite quickly. Your child should feel less pain 30 minutes to an hour after taking paracetamol. Use paracetamol only if necessary, and for the shortest amount of time to reduce fever or pain.
The dose and timing of paracetamol in children is very important and should be based on the child’s body weight (not age). Click here for more detailed dosage information for paracetamol in children https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/tools/p/paracetamol-dose-calculator/
Ibuprofen is one of the most common non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) used for New Zealand children.
Unlike paracetamol, ibuprofen can also reduce inflammation. Get advice from your doctor before giving ibuprofen to:
babies under 2 years of age
children who have asthma
children who have stomach problems
children who have kidney or heart problems
children who have allergic reactions to aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medicines.
Where can I get more information?
For starters, it’s always a good idea to speak to your local pharmacist or your GP. Click here for more detailed dosage information for ibuprofen in children.
For more information on ibubrofen, try: