Codeine Overused in Children: Alternatives Exist for Hard-to-Manage Pain

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

According to a story at MedlinePlus, a study in Pediatrics has found that codeine is still prescribed too often to children during ER visits, though it’s known that a small but significant subset of children metabolize the painkiller far more rapidly than do other children, leading to potentially dangerous results. As AJN‘s February CE article on treating the often severe and stubborn posttonsillectomy pain in children noted, there are other effective and safer options for children in pain, such as hydrocodone in combination with acetaminophen, as well as some non-opioid analgesics. Here’s a brief overview of the article:

Tonsillectomy, used to treat a variety of pediatric disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea, peritonsillar cellulitis or abscesses, and very frequent throat infection, is known to produce nausea, vomiting, and prolonged, moderate-to-severe pain. The authors review the causes of posttonsillectomy pain, current findings on the efficacy of various pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions in pain management, recommendations for patient and family teaching regarding pain management, and best practices for improving medication adherence.

There’s often no perfect answer in pain management, but it helps to know the full range of available strategies, their safety, and how well they work. As with all CE articles, this one is free.

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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