Caring for a Child with Pain

What you should know about pain in children

Pain is an unpleasant sensation which the body experiences as a reaction to injury or damage to the body. A sudden onset of pain is one of the most common symptoms that children experience.

Common causes of pain in children include infections e.g. of the throat, mouth or middle ear, and injuries e.g. sprains, broken bones or burns.

How to recognise pain in a child

A young child cannot describe pain properly. The child expresses distress differently to adults.

>From the age of 4 years a child will be able to explain that he/ she is in pain. Listen to what the child says.

>Watch how the child behaves- look to see if he/she is moving his/her body normally.

> Note facial expressions.

> Crying is usually a sign that something is wrong.

> Watch to see how your child reacts to pain – some children experience sweating, vomiting or may become pale.

Take your child to the doctor 

> If the child persistently complains of pain that does not go away.

>If he/she avoids moving in certain ways.

> If the child is sweating, pale vomiting.

> If he/she is agitated or the opposite (withdrawn, not responding, lying quietly in bed, not talking or eating.)

> If the child has an obvious cause for pain such as a fall or burn.

You are the best judge of your child’s condition. If you remain concerned about your child take your child to the doctor as soon as possible!

What you can do

Give your child a pain-relieving medication while waiting to find out the cause of the pain & after operation (with the consent of your health professional). Oral medication is usually preferred by the child. The medication may work fast to control the pain as quickly as possible. Make sure that the pain medication has proven for safety in children. Read the instructions carefully and do not exceed the recommended dose.

Additional steps to comfort your child

Give reassurance and hold your child if they are in pain.

Distract the child from pain by playing music or reading a story.

Use a hot or cold pack and massage the area of the pain.



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