Ibuprofen for children

Ibuprofen for children
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In this article

What is

Ibuprofen is a drug you belong to family of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). It can be used in children as a drug anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic. It's a over-the-counter medication (available without a prescription); there are various trade names and various formulations.

When it is indicated

Ibuprofen is commonly used in case of

  • fever (for example from flu, cold or other infectious diseases);
  • headache, toothache, sore throat, earache ...
  • trauma pain; 
  • chronic inflammatory diseases

As for fever, the guidelines of the Del Paesena Society of Pediatrics remind us that it is a defense mechanism of the organism against infectious agents. Therefore, antipyretics should only be used when fever is accompanied by signs of general malaise

Ibuprofen is slightly more effective than paracetamol against fever and has a slightly longer duration of action (6-8 hours vs 4-6 hours). It can only be administered from three months of age or 5-6 kg of weight. 

Read also: Ibuprofen and paracetamol for children

How it is administered

Like paracetamol, ibuprofen is also available in various formulations: syrup, soft chewable capsules, orodispersible tablets, suppositories. There oral administration - in the preferable option according to the various age groups - is the one to be preferred. Only when it is not possible, for example in case of vomiting, it is advisable to resort to suppositories. 

In general, taking it orally is preferable because

  • gives the possibility of dosing the dosage with more precision;
  • guarantees a more regular absorption of the drug;
  • it tends to be more pleasing to the child than suppositories.
Read also: How to get children to take medicine

The recommended dosage

The dose to be taken varies according to the child's body weight: the recommended dose is equal to 5-10 mg per kg body weight at 8-hour intervals

Effetti collaterali

Rarely, and usually in the case of high and prolonged dosages, side effects such as

  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • stomach pain (with possible bleeding)
  • skin rash
  • renal toxicity

When it is not indicated

In addition to cases in which the child is allergic or intolerant to the drug, ibuprofen, like paracetamol, should not be used with the sole purpose of lowering the fever (in case there is also no malaise) or with the purpose of preventing febrile convulsions, because in this sense it is not effective. Furthermore, it is necessary to evaluate whether the child is taking other medicines (because there may be contraindications) or if he has certain risk conditions to taking the drug, such as:

  • asthma
  • liver or kidney problems
  • chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease

A warning, valid for both paracetamol and ibuprofen: if the symptoms do not improve within 3-4 days, it is necessary to contact the pediatrician; in any case, therapy should not be continued beyond 5 days without consulting the doctor. 

Warning: absolutely avoid the combination or alternation of ibuprofen and paracetamol, because in both cases the risk of side effects increases

  • The management of fever and pain in the pediatric age, in Pediatrics, 2022
  • Ibuprofen for children article from the English Health Service website
  • Ibuprofen article dosing for children from the Medline Plus website

Questions and answers

What to do in case of fever in children?

If the baby is less than a month old, he should be taken to the emergency room as soon as possible. In a month to a year, if it is in good general condition, just schedule a same day visit, even at the pediatrician. If it is older you can keep it under observation, at rest and administering antipyretics if there is general malaise, but consult your doctor immediately if there is a rapid worsening of the general condition. 

Should ibuprofen only be given on a full stomach?

If the therapy is prolonged, it is actually recommended to take it on a full stomach, to prevent any symptoms in the stomach. In case of occasional administration, however, this can also take place on an empty stomach, which allows a more immediate effect.

  • fever
  • 3-5 children years
  • pain children
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