Topic Overview

Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, helps reduce fever and relieve pain. It does not reduce inflammation, as do non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, but it also is less likely to cause stomach upset and other side effects.

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions.

    • Acetaminophen can be found in many forms and comes in different doses.
    • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not give your child more than the maximum dose recommended on the label.
    • Be careful when giving your child over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the same time. Many of these medicines already contain acetaminophen. Too much acetaminophen can be harmful.
    • If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's or a pharmacist's advice about what amount to give. Do not use acetaminophen if your child is allergic to it.
    • Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before you give medicine to reduce a fever in a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. Sometimes a fever occurs after an immunization. Follow your doctor's or a pharmacist's instructions for treating your baby's fever after an immunization.
    • Acetaminophen products include chewable tablets, syrup, and rectal suppositories. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well. Always read the label so that you give the right dose based on your child's weight. Infants usually need a different dose than children do. Use the measuring tool that comes with the medicine, not a household spoon, to be sure to measure and give the right dose.
    • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with different dosing recommendations. Talk to your child's doctor or a pharmacist before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
    • If you are giving your child acetaminophen for fever or pain, don't also give your child a cold or flu medicine that contains acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your child could get too much medicine.

Dosage: Give acetaminophen every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Do not give more than 5 doses in a 24-hour period. Dosages are based on the child's weight regardless of whether oral or rectal products are used.

Acetaminophen dose for your child's weight

Child's weight in kilograms

Child's weight in pounds

Dose in milligrams


2.5-5.4


6.0-11.0


Ask a doctor or a pharmacist


5.5-7.9


12.0-17.0


80 mg


8.0-10.9


18.0-23.0


120 mg


11.0-15.9


24.0-35.0


160 mg


16.0-21.9


36.0-47.0


240 mg


22.0-26.9


48.0-59.0


320 mg


27.0-31.9


60.0-71.0


400 mg


32.0-43.9


72.0-95.0


480 mg

Side effects of acetaminophen are rare.

    • High doses of acetaminophen can contribute to liver damage.

    Ask a doctor before giving acetaminophen to your child if they have liver or kidney disease or take a blood thinning medication that contains warfarin. Stop using acetaminophen and contact your child’s doctor if his or her pain lasts for more than 5 days or a fever lasts more than 3 days. 

Credits

Adaptation Date: 6/19/2018

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Date: 6/19/2018

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC