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.
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 may have a higher tolerance than others. The pain threshold of your child may 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 may 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 a common 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. These should be checked first and can include the following:
- 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
- s their face flushed and are they sweaty? They could be too hot and need some layers of clothing removed.
If the cries seem unusual or your baby is inconsolable then they may be in pain or feeling unwell. Check for any visible sources of pain or discomfort and check their temperature to see if they have a fever. If your baby is under three months and has a fever above 38°C you should take them to see your doctor.
What can I do to ease the pain?
There are a number of children’s medicines, like ibuprofen and paracetamol that are available to help relieve pain associated with headache, earache, sore throat, teething, toothache and minor aches and pains.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always talk to your healthcare professional.