Health Team

Too much pain reliever can harm children

Posted April 1, 2011

WRAL Health Team

— When you open your medicine cabinet to treat your child's pain or fever, do you know much medication is too much?

Half of liver failures in the United States are caused by accidental overdoses, many of them from pain relievers.

Share Love-Weaver said she's used her share of medicine to treat her three young children's earaches and fevers.

"One of my children has a tendency with any viral illness to run a real high fever," Love-Weaver said.

Fever is the body's natural response, heating itself up to kill a virus or bacteria.

"Not all fevers should be treated," said Dr. Michele Casey, a primary care physician with Fall Pointe Medical Group in Raleigh.

Over-the-counter medicines with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help children with fevers feel better, but parents need to be aware that acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure. It can also harm the kidneys.

"You have to be real careful with your dosing of acetaminophen, as well as ibuprofen," Casey said.

Exceeding the dose limits of non-steroidal medications can also cause problems.

"These medications increase your blood pressure. They increase your sodium retention. They increase your risk of having a bleed," Casey said.

Medication toxicity becomes a problem when a person is treating pain or fever for several days. Doctors recommend alternating doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to avoid taking too much of either medicine.

Love-Weaver she has learned not to rely too heavily on her favorite medicine and that patience is her biggest ally in bringing down childhood fevers.

Many children's combination cold medicines were recently taken off the market, because they contained pain relievers and contributed to accidental overdoses. Many prescription medications, too, combine pain relievers with other ingredients.

Always discuss medications with your pharmacist or doctor.


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  • marmar13 Apr 5, 2011

    OMG to Killian, This info is available for years, check Research can take up to twenty years sometimes to get to practicing physicians, who read their PDR's and inserts in the presciptions, published by the drug companies,who owe it to their shareholders to make money, and who pay $$$$$$ to lobbyists to get their drugs approved on the fast track? And who pays the paychecks of those news media doctors? Who sponsors medical schools, and medical conferences our doctors attend? Does Vioxx ring a bell? How many thousands died for years before it was pulled? First, if drugs are dangerous for adults, it's usually much more dangerous for kids. OTC does not mean harmless. 2nd, it is OUR responsibility to keep our bodies and those of our kids healthy, NOT the drug companies. About 3/4 of deaths from major disease in this country is diet related, yet only twelve med. schools have nutrition as part of their training and then very little. 3rd.Go to the specialists on keeping your famil

  • Killian Apr 1, 2011

    OMG, why have we never been informed of this??? Overdosing kills adults all the time, but parents have been totally kept in the dark about it being dangerous to their children. They should be ashamed of themselves for keeping this vital information from us!