In the last few years, a few studies have suggested that the use of acetominophen (Tylenol) can be associated with increased asthma symptoms and exacerbations. As a result, there have been recommendations to completely avoid acetominophen use for either pain relief or fever control in children with asthma. Unfortunately, these studies did not take into account that children that needed to take acetominophen were more likely to have upper respiratory infections worsening their asthma symptoms to begin with and that this may have affected the data analysis and the suggestion that acetominophen may have played a role.
But alas, some good news for young children with mild persistent asthma when it comes to fever control or pain relief! In a brand new, well-designed study in the August 2016 volume of the prestigious journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers led by Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School analyzed 300 young children, ages 1-6, with mild persistent asthma over the course of one year. In those children who had to take acetominophen or ibuprofen for fever or pain on an as-needed basis, they did not find a significant increase in asthma-related symptoms or flare-ups in either the acetominophen or the ibuprofen group when the fact that these children frequently had associated upper respiratory infections causing asthma symptoms was considered in the analysis.