Everything you need to know about painkillers!

Pain medication and fever reducers are called analgesics or antipyretics. There are only two types of over-the-counter painkillers for children: acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Every ache has its remedy?

Both medications, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are analgesics (painkillers) and antipyretics (to relieve fever). However, ONLY ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory. “The downside is that ibuprofen is harder on the digestive system. It is highly recommended to take it while eating. There is also a controversy about its usage during chicken pox. We are hesitant to suggest it when children have the chicken pox” explains Geneviève Duperron, a Familiprix pharmacist.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra and generic)
  • Headache
  • Pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Fevercaused by vaccination, earache, cold or flu
  • Toothache and earache
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil and generic)
  • Muscle ache
  • Sprain
  • Inflammation and pain
  • Toothache
  • Fever caused by vaccination, earache, cold or flu
Which one to choose?

Mothers often pick a brand and stick with it as long as they are satisfied with the results. “For a simple fever, I use Tempra. But during intense toothaches, I give my daughter some Motrin”, explains Julie, mother of Justin and Rafaëlle.

A study from Laval University done by Amélie Bourassa, a specialist in emergency medicine, shows that alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen every four hours has considerable advantages compared to using one or the other alone. However, not all specialists agree on these results. Nonetheless, it is possible to change from ibuprofen to acetaminophen in the same day. “Sometimes, we suggest giving ibuprofen before going to bed since it lasts longer than acetaminophen”, says Geneviève Duperron. As a matter of fact, ibuprofen works for 6 to 8 hours while acetaminophen works for 4 to 6 hours.

Liquids, drops or pills?

“It’s mainly a question of preference, but liquids are easier to split than pills”, notes the pharmacist. Since dosage depends on the person’s weight, it is sometimes easier to use liquids for younger children.


It is crucial to take the child or the baby’s weight into account to calculate the right dosage. Never rely on the child’s age alone. If you are hesitant, consult your pharmacist.

What’s on the shelves?

Here are some products that you can find on any drugstore's shelves. Each product has its generic brand equivalent.

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