No child should be in pain

For parents it’s distressing to see their child in pain and sometimes kids need more than a kiss to make the pain go away.

It’s important for parents to be equipped to provide fast, effective relief straight away.

However, choosing the right medicine isn’t always simple. It’s important to understand how bad the pain is – is it mild, moderate or severe and then treat it accordingly.

Choosing the right pain medication

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established clear guidelines which can help parents and pharmacists to choose the right pain medicine. The WHO recommends understanding the type of pain and then using the appropriate pain reliever to treat it.

The reasons are simple. All individual pain medicines (analgesics) have a ‘ceiling’ where giving larger doses or more frequent doses will not provide any further relief and may well cause harm.

In these situations, as shown in the WHO Analgesic Ladder, a combination pain medicine can provide more effective relief for mild to moderate pain in children.

Seven ways parents can help ease pain in children

Although parents endeavour to make sure their child is as safe as possible, minor injuries and painful experiences can still occur. When a child is in pain parents need to provide fast, effective relief straight away. This can help ease their short term suffering and avoid ongoing effect like ‘pain memory’.

  1. No child should be in pain
    Untreated pain causes stress and can sensitise a child’s pain pathways making future bouts of pain worse.
  2. Assess the level of pain
    This depends on the age of the child
    • For young children: view their physical behaviour (crying, movement of the limbs, facial expression)
    • For older children: ask how much it hurts (small amount, medium amount, a lot) or ask what the pain is on a scale from 0-10 where zero is no pain and 10 is the worse pain you can imagine
  3. Try the three ‘P’s
    • Pharmaceutical pain medicine - depending on the level of pain
    • Physical -Apply heat or cold packs
    • Psychological - Distraction and controlled breathing
  4. Treat the level of pain with the correct medicine
    If a child is experiencing moderate to strong pain parents should treat children with appropriate pain medicine straight away. Often parents are fearful of “over-treating” pain and will try more and more paracetamol rather than moving on to a combination pain medicine. However all pain medicines have a ‘ceiling’ where giving larger doses or more frequent does will not provide any further relief – and may well cause harm.
  5. Prevent pain resurfacing rather than waiting to treat it again
    Don’t let the pain resurface before treating it again. It is important to give pain medicines regularly to get on top of the pain and to prevent it from becoming unmanageable. Parents should seek advice from their doctor or pharmacist regarding selecting and dosage of medication.
  6. Distraction is a simple and very effective way to reduce pain for infants and Children
    Distraction is a very useful tool especially for mild pain. How you distract your child will depend on his or her age.
  7. Seek medical advice
    If parents are unsure about the cause of their child’s pain or the pain does not resolve with 24 hours or even if they are concerned about their child’s pain they should speak with their doctor or pharmacist.

For moderate to strong pain relief in children speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

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