As a pediatrician, I get this question a lot, most often from parents worried about their child’s fever.
Fever — boon or bane?
Kids with a healthy immune system generate fever to help get rid of infection. Fever is never dangerous — it’s an important immune system tool.
Therefore, giving Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen, Motrin) with the primary goal of “driving down the fever” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
How do I help my kid feel better?
Kids with fever often don’t feel well. They can be quite irritable, with body aches or headaches, along with a poor appetite.
Giving them Tylenol or Advil to make them feel better is a good thing to do, because if they feel better, they’ll be less miserable and more likely to drink and stay hydrated.
Plus, if you give them Tylenol or Advil and there’s no improvement in how they feel, it may be time to consult with a doctor.
Advil or Tylenol?
Both Advil and Tylenol are very effective for relieving pain and discomfort, although Advil is better with inflammation — sprains, strains, broken arms and bruises, for instance.
Regardless of which product you choose, remember that too much of a good thing can be harmful: Tylenol can have side effects on the liver if taken for too long or in too great a quantity, while Advil taken in excess can irritate the stomach or cause harm to the kidneys.
Always follow dosing instructions, and if your child requires either of these medicines for more than a few days, be sure to consult with your doctor.