Stephen-Andrew Whyte, Lead Clinical Pharmacist, The Portland Hospital
Q. My child has just started school and I’m concerned about him picking up infections from other pupils, particularly as the weather is likely to change. How do I know when to give him medicine and which ones should I choose?
A. Almost every child under 3 years of age will pick up several infections in the course of a year, especially in the winter months and particularly if there is a sibling at home who attends school, a playgroup, a nursery or a child-minder. Most of these infections cause a runny nose, a sore throat, cough and can cause fever. A child is considered to have a fever if his or her temperature is 39°C or higher.
If you have a thermometer at home, it may be helpful to take the child’s temperature. If the temperature is greater than 39°C and the child appears to be distressed or unwell then consider using paracetamol or ibuprofen. Do not alternate or combine paracetamol with ibuprofen at this stage.
If the temperature remains greater than 39°C despite using paracetamol or ibuprofen, then switch one for the other (e.g. if you have been giving paracetamol, stop and switch to ibuprofen).
If it remains greater than 39°C despite switching paracetamol and ibuprofen, consider alternating paracetamol and ibuprofen. Add in a dose of the second drug after two hours. Paracetamol is normally given every 6 hours and ibuprofen every 8 hours. Take care not to exceed the maximum stated dose of each drug in a 24-hour period.
If, at any stage, you are concerned, do not hesitate to seek medical help. The Portland Hospital offer a Children’s Doc Around the Clock service which is an urgent medical appointment service for babies and children up to the age of 16 and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 020 7390 8022 to book an appointment if required.