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What Are the Pros and Cons of Ibuprofen for Children?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ibuprofen is a drug used for the treatment of fever and pain, and it is one of the more common painkillers for children. Specifically, the substance is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which means its primary therapeutic contribution is alleviating inflammation and its resulting health issues. Low cost and easy ingestion are further advantages of the drug for children. Determining proper dosages may present a problem for some users, however. Potential side effects should also be included among the cons of using this drug, such as nausea and potential heart or kidney problems.

One potential drawback of ibuprofen for children is the precision required for the drug to work effectively. Individual body mass greatly impacts dosage amounts, so if the drug is not prescription, then assessing proper dosage for growing children might prove difficult. In addition, there is a difference between ibuprofen products for children and ibuprofen for adults that must be recognized by the parent.

Improper ibuprofen dosages for children can facilitate a number of undesirable ibuprofen side effects. Relatively minor complications might include nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Nausea can become a serious problem for children if vomiting leads to dehydration. If a child has pre-existing heart problems, extreme caution should be used with ibuprofen as hypertension, blood thinning, and blood clotting problems are potential adverse effects in some patients. The most severe cases can lead to heart attacks or heart failure.

Fluid loss may also indicate an additional potential drawback of ibuprofen for children: kidney problems. Painkillers often rely solely on the kidneys to break them down, which can put strain result in kidney failure. In some children, ibuprofen-based products can also increase the risk for a rare but dangerous skin disease called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

On the other hand, ibuprofen for children has fewer side effects than alternative drugs like aspirin in some areas. Potential digestive issues such as ulcers or other stomach ailments tend to occur less for ibuprofen than for aspirin, although digest problems can still exist. If the child is given food with the ibuprofen, then these potential effects may be countered.

The most obvious benefit of ibuprofen for children is its pain alleviation capabilities. Ibuprofen provides a quick solution to the aches and pains common with active, growing children. The effectiveness of ibuprofen for children lies in its ability to hinder production of pain-causing substances in the body. The drug has been validated by several regional professional drug monitoring organizations, all of which have pronounced the drug safe for use.

Further ibuprofen pros include the relative economic benefit of the product and the convenience of use. For one, the drug offers a low-cost alternative to hospital visits for parents. If the child has minor aches and pains, ibuprofen in over-the-counter form can be purchased for treatment in most retail pharmacies. In addition, the product is available in chewable tablets, which will benefit children who may be too young to swallow hard medication. Both pros and cons of ibuprofen for kids can be better evaluated by seeking the advice of a trained physician.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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