Understanding Children's Pain

Understanding Children's Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something somewhere needs some attention. When your little one is ill or hurt, nerve fibres detect the tissue damage and send pain signals to their brain to let them know that something isn’t right.

These pain signals work the same way in adults too, however unlike adults children can’t always express the cause of their pain clearly, especially when they are very young, which is why it is important to be aware of the different signs that your child may be suffering from pain.

How can I tell if my child is in pain?

Every person has their own individual pain threshold; some will have a high tolerance whilst others won’t. The pain threshold of your child will vary according to the emotions they are feeling at the time and if they are a little older, experiences with pain that they have had in their past will also affect how they react to it.

Since every child experiences and reacts to pain differently, being able to identify pain in your baby or toddler will be a learning process that will be unique to you and your little one.

  • For babies who haven’t started talking yet, crying is the only way to communicate that they need something but because there are many different reasons they could be crying it isn’t always easy to know what they need. That being said, there are some basic reasons why all babies cry and these should be checked first:
    • Is it time for a feed? They could be hungry
    • Have they been fed but are still crying? They could have trapped air in their stomach and need burping
    • Is their nappy wet or dirty? They could need changing
    • Are they irritated and disinterested in playing? They could be tired and need to sleep
    • Is their face flushed and are they sweaty? They could be too hot and need some layers of clothing removed.

If the cries seem unusual and your baby is inconsolable then they may be in pain or suffering from illness. Remove your child’s clothes and check for any visible sources of pain or discomfort and check their temperature to see if they have a fever. If it is still not clear if your baby is in pain and you feel worried then check with a nurse or doctor.

  •  With toddlers it is easier to tell if they are in pain because by this age they can talk and even if they can’t explain in detail the exact cause of the pain they will be able to tell if something is wrong. If your toddler is in pain, it is common for them to also clutch the part of the body that is causing them pain. E.g. if they are hitting or holding their head then they may have a headache.

What can I do to ease the pain?

There are a number of children’s medicines that are available to help relieve mild to moderate pain symptoms such as headache, earache, sore throat, teething, toothache and minor aches and pains.

Nurofen for Children 3 months to 9 years is clinically proven to last longer than Paracetamol and provides up to 8 hours of fever relief.

Nurofen for Children 3 months to 9 years liquid suspension is available in two flavours Strawberry and Orange.

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