Safe Use of Acetaminophen for Children
Acetaminophen is used in many OTC medicines to treat fever and pain in children. Because children are also at risk for liver damage from taking too much acetaminophen, it’s important to read and follow labels carefully. Practice these tips to keep your child safe:
- Choose an acetaminophen product made for your child’s age. There can be different products. Never give your child any acetaminophen medicine that is made for an adult.
- Follow the instructions. The label tells how often to give the medicine. Read it carefully every time to make sure your child is getting the correct dose. Strengths can vary widely between products.
- Choose the dose for your child’s weight or age. If you know your child’s weight, go by that. If you don’t know how much your child weighs, go by his age.
- Check labels of other medicines. Before giving your child any other OTC or prescription medicine, make sure it doesn’t also contain acetaminophen. Never give your child more than one medicine with acetaminophen at the same time.
- Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. That’s the best way to know you’re giving the right dose.
- Ask, if you have questions. If you’re not sure how much medicine to give your child or how often, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Know the Symptoms of an Acetaminophen Overdose
If you or your child takes too much acetaminophen, call your doctor or seek medical help right away. The symptoms of acetaminophen overdose include:
- nausea or vomiting
- upset stomach
- loss of appetite
These symptoms may not appear until 12 to 24 hours after taking the medicine.
Acetaminophen: The Bottom Line
When taken as directed, acetaminophen is a safe way to control pain and fever. However, it’s important to read all medicine labels and follow directions carefully to make sure you don’t take too much.