Your child is feeling sick and you really want to cure him or her by giving fever medication, or at least doing something. Now, before you panic or make things worse, take a deep breath and stay calm. Read these 6 golden tips from our professionals at MEIDE Babysitting before you administer any fever remedies for your kid(s).
- Keep a time schedule
- Know the exact dosage required for your kid
- Appreciate that medications take time to produce effect
- Use our 3 strategies (elaborated below) when feeding your child fever medications
- Use Ibuprofen only under professional advice (i.e. last resort)
- Explore adjuncts or alternative complementary therapies to treat fever
1) Keep a time schedule
Use pen and paper, or your phone, to keep a time schedule of everything that goes in (medication, food, fluid, etc) or out (feces, urine, vomit, etc) of your child. This is also known as charting the input and output of your kid.
Indeed, this can be vital as you will be clearer about whether your child’s condition is improving or deteriorating. Also remember to chart down your child’s body temperature at regular intervals. As a rule of thumb, do this charting as regularly as once every hour (or as frequent as you are able to cope with). Share the work with other caregiver(s) to reduce caregiver stress and burnout!
In fact, professionals like doctors and nurses will thank you and be better equipped to treat your child, if you already have this time schedule on hand. Keep it handy and show it to them whenever you consult.
Also, a time schedule should include important alarms and reminders for the caregiver(s) to act. For example, one such reminder is the time for giving fever medication. This process will positively enhance the sharing of care between caregivers or parents tremendously!
In this sense, keeping a time schedule when your child is sick and whenever you are giving fever medication is really useful.
2) Know the exact dosage required for your kid
Secondly, the exact dosage recommended is critical when giving fever medication to your child. This is because overdosing the fever medication may increase risks of adverse effects from the drugs. Yet, underdosing the fever medication will result in suboptimal results. Experts from our frequented pediatrics clinic had noted that one of the most common complaints from parents was non-subsiding fever despite fever medications. Then, upon deeper evaluation, it was simply due to an under-dosage of the fever medication. Hence, know the exact dosage required for your kid before giving fever medication.
When describing the exact dosage of fever medication, there may be many different ways to describe it. However, the most accurate form is usually the MASS of the drug – i.e. how many grams(g), or milligrams (mg), or micrograms (mcg).
Avoid calculating or giving fever medication via these descriptions: teaspoons, tablespoons, volume (ie. ml ), caps. Instead, you should always be able to calculate or verify the mass of the drug given. You can do so by using the concentration of the medication, or simply consulting a professional (eg. doctor or pharmacist).
Dosing Paracetamol Syrup
In general, when given syrup paracetamol or panadol, there are 3 main concentrations:
Thus, you can calculate how many “mg” (the mass) you are giving your child. For example, if you give 5ml of paracetamol that has a concentration of 250mg/5ml, that means you give 250mg of paracetamol. If you give 5ml of paracetamol that has a concentration of 125mg/5ml, that means you give 125 mg of paracetamol. 125mg is actually half the dosage of 250mg despite giving the same volume! Hence, knowing the paracetamol concentration is important.
Lastly, always remember that the dose of fever medication is calculated based on the child’s weight. Hence, a younger child may sometimes require a higher dosage compared to an older child. Age is not a critical factor in dosing syrup paracetamol medication for kids.
3) Appreciate that medications take time to produce effect
Next, always appreciate that medications are not silver bullets and do not produce immediate effect most of the time. This is especially true of fever medications given to kids. Based on our latest research, syrup paracetamol given to kids will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes before tangible effects are felt. Also, these effects will last between 1 hour to 4 hours. Moreover, based on a study, the effects of paracetamol may last longer in younger kids.
Even though the numbers may vary slightly depending on each type of scientific study, our team at MEIDE Babysitting has a consensus that the half-life (duration of effect) and time to produce effect is similar between paracetamol and ibuprofen – another common fever-reducing medication.
Lastly, the exact duration required to produce results, as well as the total duration of effect produced, will vary from individual to individual. Also, depending on different brands and body constitutions, the timings will change. Thus it is best to consider these timings in terms of ranges. Again, when giving fever medications to your child, remember that paracetamol and ibuprofen both take about 30 to 60 minutes to produce effects!
4) Use these 3 strategies when feeding your child fever medications
Feeding your child fever medications may not be as arduous a task as you may imagine it to be.
In order to guide parents-to-be and new mummies and daddies, MEIDE Babysitting Team has compiled a list of 3 survival strategies to ensure your child takes fever medications as required!
To start off, get rid of the mentality that medications are distasteful, bitter, or disliked by babies, children or teenagers. In contrast, they may actually like them. Nowadays, syrup medications are flavored (and colored) in a variety of creative ways. As long as you show enthusiasm (or fake it), your child would hardly reject the novel potion to be fed to him or her. In fact, you would want to keep all medications out of their reach to ensure they do not secretly take them to drink.
Next, you would not want to feed directly from the bottle. To ensure you have the accurate dosage (read above to calculate mass and volume), use a measured medication spoon, or a syringe. Most medications can actually be fed with or without food. Also, they could be mixed with other syrups, drinks, or foods. If in doubt, consult your pharmacist or doctor first.
Thirdly, be ready for your child to spit out, drool out, or even vomit out some medications. Again, do not show any sign of stress or displeasure in front of your baby. Take it in your stride because this is all to be expected. Clear up the mess, and repeat the steps as above mentioned to top up the estimated amount “rejected” by your baby. Stay calm, composed and comforting to your baby. If plausible, you can even display excitement! This will let your baby feel more assured and receptive towards consuming the medicines.
Our 3 strategies are non-exhaustive and you may read further tips here too!
Notably, as a general rule of thumb, if 30 minutes or more have already passed, you may not need to top up medications even if your baby vomits as they would have been absorbed. However, if your baby still persistently vomits or rejects the medicines, seek help from a more experienced caregiver, or medical professional. As a last resort, fever medications can be administered as suppositories (ie. bullets) too.
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5) Use Ibuprofen only under professional advice (i.e. last resort)
Fifthly, do not use ibuprofen as a first-line fever medication, unless professionally advised so. The first-line fever medication to give is most often paracetamol (acetaminophen).
According to medical experts, the main rationale is that paracetamol has significantly less possible harmful side effects versus benefits. For instance, ibuprofen (or any other antipyretic medication under the same “NSAID” family) may be harmful if your child has a fever due to dengue. Moreover, ibuprofen and its class of drugs may cause adverse effects to your child’s kidneys, gastric system and other parts of the body. As far as we know, the minimum age at which ibuprofen is allowed in children is higher than that of paracetamol.
Ibuprofen and its family of medications should usually only be used as an add-on antipyretic, or as an adjunct agent. Hence, many medical clinics in Singapore would advise parent(s) to administer ibuprofen only if the child’s temperature is still more than 38.5 degree Celsius despite other on-going fever-reducing treatments.
Notably, one exception where ibuprofen is preferred over paracetamol would be when your kid has an allergy to paracetamol. Additionally, ibuprofen has extra anti-inflammatory effects versus paracetamol. In such cases where the risk-benefit ratio of ibuprofen is less than paracetamol, ibuprofen may be used first. However, such a judgment should always be made in consultation with a medical professional first.
6) Explore adjuncts or alternative complementary therapies to treat fever
Finally, there are several other complementary methods to stop fever in children.
Before we delve further, it is important at this point to remember that whilst giving fever medications is useful, fever is usually just a normal body response to illness. Thus, fever is not a disease by itself. Instead, the sign of fever means that your child’s body is active and fighting back against a threat.
As you would have realized by now, giving fever medications does not “cure fever” or “cure illness”. It simply makes your kid feel more comfortable. Along these lines, you could also simultaneously do the following to help manage your child’s fever:
TWO USEFUL ADJUNCT TIPS TO FEVER MEDICATIONS
Keep your child hydrated – increase the frequency of feeding and fluidity of feeds. This means that even if your child took less volume of food and drinks at each feed, the overall amount consumed over 24 hours could still be the same or more. Also, feeds should be made more liquid. For example, porridge, cereals, soups and blended food are safer options versus more solid foods. In certain cases, you can even consider isotonic drinks to replenish electrolytes and fluids for your child! All in all, promoting hydration is often more critical than “eating solid foods” when helping your child recover from sickness and feeling better from a fever.
Consider tepid sponging – use a sponge dipped in slightly cooled water to dab your baby. Certain areas like the neck, forehead, back, groin and thighs are optimal for the sponging because the evaporating moisture will help dissipate body heat. Do note that exposure to extreme low or high temperatures are not recommended. Therefore, do not sponge your baby in icy water, hot water, or wrap your baby in blankets.
All said, there are also several other adjuncts to managing fever in children. These would be covered in our separate article.
Amidst plenty of advice from everyone around you – trust us to sieve through the facts, myths, and half-truths, to summarize, and reproduce a concise read for you about giving fever medications to children!
Our team at MEIDE Babysitting will continue to research and produce such articles for you. In the meantime, great job for reaching the end of our article and learning about the 6 golden tips when giving fever medication to children!
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