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.

Side Effects

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

Read more on:

Hydrotherapy Explained

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to provide therapeutic effects. This is quite a wide ranging topic and can include treatments such as steam rooms and clonic hydrotherapy, but in this case we are...


Ibuprofen is the most commonly used form of anti-inflammatory medication. These are sometimes called Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) or Non-narcotic Analgesics (included in this group are...


Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs which can be either injected locally or taken orally. Injected corticosteroids are more commonly used in musculoskeletal conditions, due to the maximal...

Cryotherapy Contraindications

A contraindication to cold therapy is an injury or condition that would make applying cold therapy to a sports injury dangerous.