Suppositories are a bit of a ‘controversial issue’, but in most Continental European countries they are the norm for giving medicines to small children. In the UK suppositories are very hard to find and doctors and nurses rarely volunteer them. After my recent experience with my younger daughter I am more of a convert. I avoid medicines as much as I can, but in case of need, it is very frustrating if your child does not want to take them or, even worse, spits them out. I think every mum should know about the benefits of suppositories and then decide whether she wants to use them or not.
What are they:
Suppositories are a small, bullet-shaped medicines which are inserted into the back passage instead of being taken orally.
The suppositories work by melting at body temperature and allowing the medicine (for example paracetamol) to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the rich supply of blood vessels found in this area.
What I like about them:
1) They allow medicines to be taken (rectally) when orally is not an option. For example, when babies/young children are vomiting a lot, have difficulty swallowing or are too distressed.
2) The medicine is absorbed quickly and starts to provide benefits before oral medicines do. If your child has very high fever, a paracetamol suppository will bring the fever down as quickly as in 15 minutes!
3) Easier, less invasive and more precise. I am not a fan of suppositories but I like even less force-feeding a deeply distressed, sick child with a syringe full of a liquid. Inserting a suppository is painless for the child and takes just a few seconds.
4) Can be given while the baby/child sleeps without having to wake them up.
5) Suppositories don’t contain any sugar or sweeteners that most oral medicines do.
1) They come in different sizes/doses. You need to know roughly your child’s weight to get the dose right.
2) In case your baby poohs after a suppository, don’t give another one. 80% of the suppository is generally absorbed within 15 minutes, so you should wait at least 4 hours.
3) Suppositories are usually placed rounded end first. However, some sources suggest that placing the suppository blunt end first prevents the suppository from being expelled.
How to give it:
Wash you hands. Place your baby/young child on the changing mat, lying on the back with the legs up, as for changing the nappy. Holding the suppository between index finger and thumb, locate the anus and gently insert the suppository with the index finger till you cannot see it anymore. If you can, try to keep your baby lying still for a couple of minutes.
Where to find them:
1) The easiest and cheapest way is to stock up when you travel. If you happen to be in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland you should find them in any pharmacy.
There are different brands: Paralink, Doliprane, Dafalgan, Alvedon for paracetamol and Nuerofen for ibuprofen.
2) Ask your GP. I believe they are prescribed on request.