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Nov 19, 2014

How Tylenol Works, & How It Can Help Your Child Find Relief

How Tylenol Works, & How It Can Help Your Child Find Relief

You’re a great parent. You do a lot for your children, and you never want to see them hurting or ill. Unfortunately, a big part of life is dealing with various levels of pain and getting sick, so it’s inevitable that, at some point, your child’s going to hurt themselves or fall ill.

And for toothaches, minor bumps and bruises, and other types of “owies,” it’s likely that—after giving your child a big hug and wiping away their tears—you give them a dose of Tylenol or a generic form of acetaminophen. However, did you know that the next time you child comes down with the flu or another illness, Tylenol can work as an effective treatment to reduce their temperature?

How Does Tylenol Help Reduce Fever?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question is that we really don’t know. Despite acetaminophen’s widespread use, “experts aren’t quite sure how the drug works.” However, some researchers think that this drug works similar to aspirin or ibuprofen (we’ll talk more about this in a moment).

When we get hurt or sick, our body releases chemicals called prostaglandins, which essentially tell our nerve endings that something’s wrong. When our nerve endings pick up on these chemical signals, they then send a “message” to the brain about the pain, at which point you begin feeling it. Prostaglandins aren’t just related to pain though, as they’re also thought to cause the hypothalamus to elevate body temperature, resulting in a fever.

Because of this prostaglandin-inhibiting action, acetaminophen can help not only to reduce your child’s fever, but also the pain that often accompanies it.

When It Comes to Tylenol, It’s All About the Dosing

The truth is that many parents may not recognize about acetaminophen’s fever-reducing power, often because it’s dosed improperly. However, it’s a very safe and effective method of reducing children’s fevers, and is one of the most common methods of doing so.

With this said, in order to ensure that acetaminophen can work its magic on your child, we here at Advanced Family Medicine recommend giving your child 15mg of Tylenol for every 1kg (2.2 pounds) of weight, once every 4-6 hours, 2-3 times per day as needed.

Should You Use Tylenol & Ibuprofen For Children’s Fevers?

Although Tylenol is very effective at reducing children’s fevers, and very safe when given in the correct doses, many physicians recommend alternating between doses of Tylenol and ibuprofen in order to “ramp up” your child’s fever reduction—but only iftheir fever is over 104°, and/or if it has been unresponsive to one or the other medication.

In instances like these, it’s recommended that you only give your child medication every 4 hours (e.g. alternating between one dose of Tylenol every 8 hours, and one dose of ibuprofen every 8 hours), and only administering these 2 medications together for a period of 24 hours or less.

Precautions to Remember When Using Tylenol to Reduce Fever

As we mentioned previously, Tylenol is considered safe for the vast majority of the population, as long as it’s administered in the proper doses at the proper times. However, if your child experiences any nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), stop taking it immediately and contact your Advanced Family Medicine physician.

Want to Know More About Tylenol & Fevers?

If so, contact Advanced Family Medicine today at (425) 453-6838 to schedule your appointment, and we’ll be more than happy to address any questions or concerns you may have!

Tags: Children, Cold, Flu

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