Paracetamol

Paracetamol

Paracetamol (Pamol, Panadol) is a medicine to help reduce pain. Too much can be dangerous. Keep all medicines in a locked or latched cupboard.

Key points to remember

  • paracetamol ('Pamol', 'Panadol') is a medicine to help reduce pain
  • your child doesn't need it for fever alone - if your child is miserable because of the fever, you can give paracetamol to make them more comfortable
  • too much paracetamol can be dangerous
  • keep all medicines out of reach of children, in a locked or latched cupboard
  • before each dose, check if it is still needed
  • know the right dose to give and check the strength
  • wait at least 4 hours between doses; give no more than 4 times in 24 hours
  • if someone else has been caring for your child, ask if they have given them paracetamol, how much and when
  • check other medicines given; they may have paracetamol in them

What is paracetamol?

  • paracetamol ('Pamol', 'Panadol') is a medicine to help reduce pain
  • it will not cause drowsiness or cause your child to sleep
  • it can be used for children and babies over 3 months old
  • younger babies must see the doctor

Does my child need it?

  • only give paracetamol if it's necessary
  • fever is a normal response to infection and is not in itself harmful, so you don’t need to give paracetamol for fever alone
  • if your child is miserable because of the fever, you can give paracetamol to make them more comfortable
  • giving babies and children paracetamol before and repeatedly after immunisation just in case they feel unwell is not recommended. There is some evidence that paracetamol may reduce the effectiveness of childhood vaccinations

How long does it take liquid paracetamol to work in children?

It varies between individuals but paracetamol seems to have the maximum effect between 1 ½ and 3 hours after the dose is given. Pain levels and temperature may start to come down before this.

What is the correct dose?

  • the dose depends on your child's weight and the strength of paracetamol
  • always measure doses exactly - ask your pharmacist or nurse for an oral syringe
  • weigh your child, then check the dosing table below
  • check the strength - there are 2 strengths
  • ask the pharmacist, doctor or nurse to show you
Your child's weight 120mg per 5mL 250mg per 5mL
5kg or less Ask doctor Ask doctor
6.5kg 4mL 2mL
8kg 5mL 2.5mL
10kg 6mL 3mL
15kg 9mL 4.5mL
20kg 12mL 6mL
30kg 18mL 9mL
40kg 25mL 12mL

Before every dose

  • check your child to see if they need another dose
  • wait at least 4 hours between doses; give no more than 4 times in 24 hours
  • keep a record of the doses you give your child - check when you gave the last dose, before giving it again

Record of doses given

Child's name:

 

 

Date and time Child's weight

Strength
120mg / 5mL or
250mg / 5mL

Dose (mL)
       
       
       
       

Where should I keep paracetamol?

  • keep it in a high place out of reach and out of sight of children
  • store it in a locked or latched cupboard
  • the most common cause of poisoning is by children helping themselves
  • it doesn't need to be chilled so don't keep it in the fridge
  • it should have a child-resistant cap - ask your pharmacist 

What if my child has too much?

  • too much paracetamol can damage your child's liver
  • if your child has had too much, call your doctor, nurse or the Poisons Centre 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) immediately
  • signs of overdose may include feeling sick (nausea), vomiting, diarrhoea, yellow skin or eyes, poor appetite, confusion or extreme sleepiness

Information in other languages

See the Waitemata District Health Board website for paracetamol information in Chinese (PDF, 836KB) and Korean (PDF, 768KB).

Paracetamol leaflet in Chinese (Waitemata District Health Board)

Paracetamol leaflet in Korean (Waitemata District Health Board)

Medsafe New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority. Information for health professionals. 

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. UK public assessment report. Liquid paracetamol for children: revised UK dosing instructions have been introduced. November 2011.  [Accessed 10/11/2015]

National Health Service (NHS) Choices. UK. Advice for managing child fever. March 2011.  [Accessed 26/3/2014]

SafeRx (Quality initiative by the Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) Team). Waitemata District Health Board. 2009. Review 2011. Paracetamol – safe prescribing – mind that child!  (PDF, 274KB) [Accessed 10/11/2015]

Our thanks to Waitemata District Health Board for permission to adapt the following leaflet:

Waitemata District Health Board. 2014. Giving paracetamol safely to babies and children (English). (PDF, 1.16MB) [Accessed 29/06/2016]

This page last reviewed 15 April 2014.
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