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Children’s pain and fever medications still in short supply

By Skye Bryden-Blom Oct 26, 2022 | 6:00 PM

(SOURCE: Pexels)

You’ll still spot bare store shelves when looking for children’s pain and fever medications as we head into the cold and flu season.

Melanie MacInnis with the IWK children’s hospital in Nova Scotia tells our newsroom the national shortage of medications like kid’s Tylenol and Advil is due to consumer-driven demand.

The pharmacy clinical coordinator says the last few months have been especially busy for sickness.

“It’s not like a typical shortage where, for some reason or another, the company isn’t manufacturing to the appropriate level. In fact, the manufacturers have increased their production based on historical use,” MacInnis says. “The issue is with the increased demand. So what we’re seeing is, it’s a much more active viral respiratory season that happened earlier this year.”

If you’re scrambling to find pediatric/infant and children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen products, a tip is always to check with a pharmacist before you leave the store.

They might be aware of alternatives to help you.

“The liquid formulations are the ones where we’re having a problem, but we still have tablets and suppositories and chewable tablets available,” MacInnis says. “Also, for children, where weight dosing is a little bit of a concern, sometimes we can get away with using a partial pill. Even if the child can’t swallow, you can still crush it up into some yogurt or pudding or applesauce.”

MacInnis advises parents to start training their kids early on how to swallow pills.

She says planning ahead will make learning how to take a pill fun and also help to ease stress during the times when a medication needs to be administered.

MacInnis recommends you start with a child who is around the age of five with candy. You can try to get kids to swallow a little cake sprinkle a few times and then you can increase the size to a Nerds candy and then a Tic Tac, MacInnis explains.

She also has tips when it comes to treating a fever if you can’t track down children’s pain and fever medications.

MacInnis says a high fever can also be treated with cold compresses and by stripping off layers of clothing.

“I would also caution folks that fever in and of itself doesn’t always need to be treated,” she explains. “If the child has a fever by the number on the thermometer, but is otherwise acting normally, you may not even need to treat that fever. It’s really more for the child’s comfort. If the issue is pain. If it’s muscular-skeletal pain, you can use heat and ice packs, use elevation, and if it’s an injury that can be wrapped, that can also help manage pain.”

MacInnis also advises that you don’t usually need to head to an emergency room if your kid has a fever for the short term. However, if a child is under three months old it’s recommended they be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

She also warns against stocking up on these medications, saying buying only when you’re in need will ensure the community always has access.

If you need more tips, you can check out this info guide prepared by the Canadian Pharmacists Association to help parents during the short supply issues.


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