Paracetamol vs. Ibuprofen…It’s a showdown!

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are both medications that can be hugely helpful when you have sick or injured kiddies. They both provide relief from pain and discomfort and are easily accessible at your local chemist. But the important question is…which one is superior?

Paracetamol is the name of the actual drug, however you may know it by its brand names Panadol, Panamax or Dymadon. It can be given to babies one month and older.

Ibuprofen is also the drug name but most of us know the brand names such as Nurofen, Advil or Brufen. It can be given to babies three months and older.

How do I know which brand name is better?

Alright guys, it’s time to drop some truth bombs here. All of the different types of paracetamol and ibuprofen work just as well as each other *Shock Horror*.

The only difference is that some children might prefer the taste of one brand over another. If your little one isn’t digging the taste of one brand, it might be worth trying a different one next time.

How does Paracetamol actually work then?

Very good question! Paracetamol works by blocking chemicals in the brain responsible for pain.

And what about Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, it works by reducing prostaglandins which are natural chemicals in the body that trigger pain.

So pain relief doesn’t actually fix the cause of the pain?

Nope, it simply masks the feeling of pain.

Think of pain relief kind of like a band aid for discomfort. You can use it to make your child more comfortable but it wont treat the actual cause of the pain.

When do I use Paracetamol and when do I use Ibuprofen?

Let’s make it super simple, hey!

Pain or discomfort as a result of inflammation (such as teething, ear infections, tonsillitis and sprains) = Ibuprofen would be your first choice because it’s an anti-inflammatory.

General pain = Dealer’s choice here, paracetamol or ibuprofen, whichever you prefer or have on hand.

Fever related discomfort = Again dealer’s choice, however…

The goal of fever management is to keep your child comfortable, not to get rid of the fever. If your child has a fever and they are in pain or uncomfortable, you can give them medication. However, if they have a fever and are comfortable and otherwise well, medication isn’t really needed. You can read more about fever here.

(Remember fever in a child under three months requires URGENT assessment by a doctor preferably in hospital, even if they have no other symptoms).

Do not give Ibuprofen if…

Your child has suffered a head injury as it can worsen bleeding in the brain.

If your child has chicken pox as it can cause nasty skin infections.

Or if your child is asthmatic as non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs can worsen asthmatic symptoms.

Can I give Paracetamol and Ibuprofen together?

You sure can! What a game changer.

Panadol or ibuprofen can be given separately, at the same time, or you can alternate them to achieve more effective 24hr pain relief.

Because paracetamol and ibuprofen work in different ways in the body, they do not interact or have any negative effects when given together.

The riskiest part is accidentally giving too much medication so it’s super important you document how much you are giving and at what time.

*WARNING shameless plug incoming…

The Cradle and Kin medication trackers are great for documenting medication administration, join our mailing today to receive a free tracker.

So who is the winner then? Paracetamol or Ibuprofen?

We are officially declaring this one a draw.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen both have their individual benefits and work well for different reasons.

Ibuprofen has the benefit of being an anti-inflammatory, however paracetamol can be used for younger babies, asthmatics and pain/discomfort from head injuries and chicken pox.

And best of all? If one or the other isn’t cutting it, give them together for more effective relief.

At Cradle and Kin we don’t discriminate, you will find both of these medications in our kits.

If you want to learn more about how to manage childhood illness and emergencies, book in a first aid course with us today!


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