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Acetaminophen Use in Young Children

Topic Overview

Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, helps reduce fever and relieve pain. It does not reduce inflammation, as do non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, but it also is less likely to cause stomach upset and other side effects.

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions.

  • Acetaminophen can be found in many forms and comes in different doses.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not give your child more than the maximum dose recommended on the label.
  • Be careful when giving your child over-the-counter cold or influenza (flu) medicines and acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the same time. Many of these medicines already contain acetaminophen. Too much acetaminophen can be harmful.
  • If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's or a pharmacist's advice about what amount to give. Do not use acetaminophen if your child is allergic to it.
  • Acetaminophen products include chewable tablets, syrup, and rectal suppositories. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well. Always read the label so that you give the right dose based on your child's age and/or weight. Infants usually need a different dose than children do. Use the measuring tool that comes with the medicine, not a household spoon, to be sure to measure and give the right dose.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with different dosing recommendations. Talk to your child's doctor or a pharmacist before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Side effects of acetaminophen are rare.

  • Nausea and rash are the most common.
  • High doses of acetaminophen can contribute to liver and kidney damage.

Do not give your child acetaminophen if he or she has liver disease.

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 23, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine

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