It's Flu Season, Get Your Tylenol Ready

Hi Dope Moms and Dope Parents! This is my inaugural blog post, so bear with me! 


My name is Susan, and I am trained and work as a Family Practice-Anesthesiologist. I live in the Ottawa area, and work in a community hospital in the operating rooms. As far as doctors go, we are usually fairly invisible in the hospital, as in patients don’t often remember who we are, since our interactions are so very brief (most people remember us as the person who tells them to count backwards from 10, and they are out by “6”). My day to day work includes providing anesthetics in operating rooms for patients undergoing elective and emergency surgery, providing labour pain management including epidurals (moms tend to like me for this), providing post-operative pain management, and supporting other physicians in the hospital if they run into a life-or-death situation. 


As a family physician, I am also trained in pediatric care. I have a special interest in women's and children’s health, and almost went into obstetrics when choosing my specialties. But this way I get to care for women and children, instead of having to choose who to focus on.


Anywho, health is such a huuuuuuge topic, and there is so much information that medicine just doesn’t know yet. Our bodies, our babies, are such complex beings with so much normal variation, that it is impossible for any specialist to know everything. There is too much to focus on, so I will start by addressing some basic health questions/myths that I have read/heard in passing.


****NOTE: This blog post is ABSOLUTELY NOT a replacement for seeing your healthcare provider. Each situation is different, and MANY diseases, ranging from mild to deadly can present in the exact same way. I do not want to be responsible for someone not seeking medical attention when they should. Please see your doctor, Nurse Practitioner, ER physician, tele health nurse, etc for your specific situation


***NOTE 2: the points below are for HEALTHY babies, who are born at TERM. Your baby may have special requirements due to his or her medical history, so please please please speak to your primary care provider




A common question I hear is about medications for babies, for example: “My baby is teething, can I give tylenol/Advil? How much do I give?


A: YES! acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe to give to babies. They target different pathways for pain control, so using both simultaneously (giving both together, every 4-6 hours) or alternating (give one, 4 hours later, give the other, 4 hours later give the first drug, etc) as needed is definitely OK in a healthy infant.

Dose: side of the box dosages tend to be basic, understandably. However, I believe if you are going to give your child medication, why only provide partial effect? I believe in appropriate dosing.

Acetaminophen: 15mg per kg orally every FOUR hours as needed

Ibuprofen: 0-6 months 5mg per kg orally every FOUR hours as needed

6+ months 10mg per kg orally every FOUR hours as needed


Doses for Ibuprofen changes with age because your baby’s kidneys are not mature at birth, and ibuprofen relies on the kidneys to be removed from the body. It actually takes about 1 year for the kidney systems to fully mature. Don’t worry though, the listed dosage of ibuprofen will not harm your child’s kidneys. (This is also one of the reasons to avoid salt in infants.)


These doses are also ok to give in cases of a fever. 


A fever by definition, is a CORE temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher. Core temperature is taken orally under the tongue, or rectally (in their bum). Armpit, forehead, ear temperatures are NOT reliable. So if you are debating between a $5 digital thermometer and a $50 one that is infrared, go with the one that can be put in the bum (just saved you $45, you’re welcome). Children usually cannot reliably take oral temperatures until about age 2. I can talk a lot more about fevers, but I will keep it short for now.


Hope you enjoyed my little post! 


N.B. Shameless plug: flu season is upon us, so please take your baby to their doctor for their flu shot if they are older than 6 months. Remember though, the first time your little bean actually needs 2 shots, that are at least 4 weeks apart! 





Susan Zhu, MD, CCFP, FPA.