Paracetamol is one of a group of analgesic medications. It is also known as acetaminophen. It is a painkiller which is effective on mild to moderate pain.
Uses of Paracetamol
Paracetamol can be used to ease mild to moderate pain. It is most commonly used in cases of musculoskeletal injury, general aches and pains, as well as conditions such as headaches and toothache.
It can also be used to help control a fever or reduce the symptoms of a cold.
Painkillers such as paracetamol have no effect on the inflammatory process or on blood clotting.
Paracetamol is available in several different forms, with tablets and capsules being the most popular. It may also be as a soluble tablet which is dissolved into water, in a liquid form as a bottle of medicine or as a suppository.
Paracetamol may also be combined with other medications, for example codeine (known as co-codamol). It may also be found in decongestant medicines for cold and flu treatment.
Paracetamol has relatively few side effects, especially when used according to the instructions and not in excess.
Occasional side effects may include:
- A rash.
- Blood conditions including thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) and leukopenia (low white blood cell count).
- Liver or kidney damage (when taken in excess).
- Low blood pressure when given via a drip (in hospital).
How it Works
Paracetamol works by inhibiting the release of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a chemical which are released into the body in response to illness or injury.
They can also help to reduce the temperature by affecting the area of the brain responsible for maintaining core body temperature.
Contraindications of Paracetamol
Contraindications are cases where the medication should not be used. This is often where an existing medical condition or a medication already being used by the patient makes paracetamol unsuitable.
There are very few cases where paracetamol cannot be used. It is safe for pregnant women and those who are breast feeding. It is also safe (in smaller doses) for children.
Those with the following health issues should consult their doctor before using paracetamol:
- Liver problems
- Kidney problems
- Alcohol dependence
The following medications may also interact with paracetamol, affecting one or both medications effects:
- Busulfan – Cancer patients.
- Carbamazepine – Usually for epilepsy.
- Colestyramine – Used for a number of conditions including liver disease.
- Coumarins – Found in anti-clotting medications.
- Domperidone – Reduces nausea.
- Metoclopramide – For nausea and indegestion.
Always follow the advice on the packet when it comes to doses for medications. This advice is there to keep you safe and prevent illness from taking too much of the drug.
Adult oral doses are usually recommended to be 650-1000mg every four hours if required, up to a maximum daily dose of 4g.
At a maximum dose of 1000mg paracetamol reaches it's highest effectiveness and taking more does not improve it's pain relieving effect. All it does is increase its toxicity levels.
Always follow the advice on the packet