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Should I be concerned if my child is prescribed opioids?

More than one in three Americans are prescribed opioids; in some states, one in ten children are prescribed opioids


The opioid epidemic has reached national crisis levels in America.


According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, one in 10 children enrolled in Tennessee’s Medicaid program were prescribed opioids between 1999 and 2014.


The study argued that those opioids caused unnecessary exposure to potential harm.  In all cases, opioid prescriptions went to children without severe conditions.


So if and when you find your child prescribed opioids, the natural question is: are they necessary?


If you are concerned about opioid addiction, there are several viable alternatives.


In post-operative situations, pain can obviously be distressing.  Minimizing your child’s discomfort is paramount.


If prescribing morphine, your doctor should carefully determine a short-term dose to give.  Opioid dependency is not a concern with short-term use.


Most side effects of short-term morphine use are not serious.  However, some children may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation, or drowsiness.


In some scenarios, morphine ins not necessary after surgery.


Why ibuprofen is better for pain than morphine after your kid’s surgery


For minor operations like orthopedic surgeries, research has found ibuprofen to be equally as as effective as morphine.


Ask your doctor whether ibuprofen might be effective as a post-operative pain treatment after your child’s surgery.


If your child receives an opioid prescription, be sure to store the opioids out of kids’ reach.


Morphine prescriptions should last for only a day or two.


After a couple days, give ibuprofen or acetaminophen.


Be sure to ask your prescribing physician if there is a reason to avoid either of these medicines post-operatively.  There can be contraindications (such as liver disease with acetaminophen or kidney disease with ibuprofen).


Wait for increasingly longer periods of time in between doses.  Monitor if your child still requires pain management.