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|Type of medicine||Painkiller and anti-pyretic|
|Works by||Blocks chemical messages in the brain that control pain and body temperature.|
|Effective within||Up to an hour|
|Pack size||32 or 100 (available on prescription only) Tablets, 24 Soluble Tablets|
|Common side effects||Side effects are rare. May cause a rash (hives), swelling of the hands, feet, mouth, lips, difficulty breathing.|
|Manufacturer||Almus, Accord, Zentiva, Crescent|
|Use with alcohol||No known issues|
What is paracetamol?
Paracetamol is a type of medicine called analgesic - more commonly known as painkillers. Paracetamol 500mg tablets are suitable for treating mild to moderate aches and pains, as well as high temperatures in people over the age of 10 years.
Paracetamol is very effective in reducing pain and fevers and is, therefore, included in many over the counter or prescription painkillers and also cold and flu medication.
You must not take paracetamol tablets with any other medicines that contain paracetamol. It is therefore essential that you read all Patient Information Leaflets thoroughly before starting any new medication.
What is paracetamol used for?
Paracetamol 500mg tablets are used to treat mild-moderate pain in children and adults over the age of 10.
Paracetamol is the most commonly used pain killer in the UK and is known to be effective in reducing pain associated with the following causes:
- Period pain
- Joint and muscle pain
- Post-operative pain
It is also now known that paracetamol is highly effective in the use of reducing high temperatures which are often a symptom of cold and flu. Paracetamol can also help lower high temperatures caused by mild infections.
If you think you may have a temperature (fever) that is caused by an infection you must speak to a doctor about your treatment options. Paracetamol does not help to clear infections.
Paracetamol for kids
Paracetamol tablets and soluble tablets contain 500mg of the active ingredient paracetamol. These tablets should not be given to anyone under the age of 10 years. For children between 10-15 years old, they can take 1 tablet every 4-6 hours.
For the treatment of pain and fevers in children under 10 years old, syrup or melt versions of paracetamol should be used.
What does paracetamol do and how does it work?
Paracetamol is thought to work directly on the central nervous system within the body, reducing the pain signals that can travel up the spinal cord and reach the brain.
It is also thought that paracetamol, like other painkillers such as ibuprofen, prevent the chemical prostaglandins being produced. Prostaglandins are naturally generated by the body as a result of pain and fever so by decreasing their production; paracetamol reduces pain sensations and the body's temperature.
How long does paracetamol take to work and how long does it last for?
Paracetamol can take up to an hour to take effect but most people will notice some improvement to their pain and fever within half an hour.
Like all medicines, paracetamol starts to be broken down by the body as soon as it is swallowed. If you were to take one single dose of paracetamol, usually you will notice pain or a fever return within 4-6 hours.
If you are experiencing moderate pain which you are not able to tolerate with just paracetamol alone every 4-6 hours you may want to consider taking another pain killer alongside paracetamol such as ibuprofen or an opioid painkiller.
If you are unsure or would like further advice about what killers you should take you may want to take a look at our Pain page or speak to a doctor or pharmacist.
How often can you take paracetamol?
You can take paracetamol every 4-6 hours without exceeding 4 doses in 24 hours. For more information on how to take paracetamol, go to the Directions section on this page.
What is the paracetamol dose?
Paracetamol 500mg tablets are suitable for people over the age of 10 years. For details on the dosage of paracetamol please see our Directions section on this page and also read the Patient Information Leaflet.
Can you take paracetamol with ibuprofen?
Paracetamol can be taken with ibuprofen at their recommended doses. For the best outcome when using both paracetamol and ibuprofen to reduce pain and fevers you should stagger the doses of both medicines so you feel a more consistent reduction and feel the benefits over a longer period.
Paracetamol & naproxen
It is safe to take paracetamol at the same time as naproxen as long as you take both medicines as directed and this is only for a short time.
If you are finding that you are unable to control your pain with naproxen alone or with paracetamol after 3 days you should speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Paracetamol & codeine
Paracetamol can be taken at the same time as codeine as long as you take both medicines as directed and this is only for a short time. You can buy medicines that contain both paracetamol and codeine online at The Independent Pharmacy over on our Pain page.
You should not take codeine continuously for more than 3 days as it can cause addiction.
If you are finding that you are unable to control your pain with codeine and paracetamol after 3 days you should speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Can you take paracetamol when pregnant?
Paracetamol can be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. When taking any medications while pregnant or breastfeeding it is always recommended that you take the smallest recommended dose and for the shortest amount of time.
How much paracetamol is dangerous?
When taking paracetamol it is important to make sure you take it as is directed in the Patient Information Leaflet. Taking over the recommended dose can cause unwanted side effects and can be dangerous.
If you have taken over the recommended dosage of paracetamol you should go to your nearest accident & emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible.
- Paracetamol Patient Information Leaflet: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/5164/pil
- Paracetamol 500mg Soluble Tablets Patient Information Leaflet: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4199/pil
- Paracetamol 500mg Tablets Patient Information Leaflet: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/10471/pil
For a full list of warnings and precautions associated with paracetamol, see the Patient Information Leaflet.
Speak to a doctor or pharmacist before taking paracetamol if you:
- Have problems with your kidneys or liver or
- If you regularly drink large amounts of alcohol.
Paracetamol & other medicines
Many over the counter and prescription painkillers and cold and flu medications contain a dose of paracetamol.
You must not take paracetamol with any other medicines that already contain paracetamol. If you have accidentally taken too much paracetamol you should speak to a doctor.
It may not be recommended for you to take paracetamol if you are taking other medications, you should, therefore, speak to a doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medications.
Before starting any new medication you must read the Patient Information Leaflet thoroughly to make sure you are aware of the ingredients in which your medicines contain.
Paracetamol & alcohol
Paracetamol should not be taken with alcohol as it can increase the chance of you experiencing unwanted side effects.
Adults and children over 16 years: Swallow 2 tablets or dissolve 2 soluble tablets in a full glass of water. Repeat dose as needed every 4 hours to a maximum of 4 doses in 24 hours.
Use in children aged 10 to 15 years: Swallow 1 tablet or dissolve 1 soluble tablet every 4-6 hours in a full glass of water when needed to a maximum of 4 doses in 24 hours.
Use in children under 10 years: Paracetamol 500mg tablets and soluble tablets should not be given to children under 10 years of age.
Paracetamol 500mg tablets and soluble tablets treat mild-moderate pain in children and adults over the age of 10 years. Paracetamol tablets are for oral use only.
For more information on how to use and take paracetamol please read the Patient Information Leaflet.
Taking over the stated dosage of paracetamol, even as an accident, counts as an overdose and can be harmful.
If you have taken too much paracetamol you should get another person to accompany you to your nearest emergency department straight away. Some people may feel sick, be sick or have abdominal pain as a result of taking too much paracetamol but sometimes symptoms are delayed. You must seek medical help even if you are feeling well.
You should try to take the pack of paracetamol with you so the doctors know what and how much you have taken.
The active ingredient is paracetamol. Each tablet and soluble tablet contains 500mg of paracetamol.
Tablets and soluble tablets contain different inactive ingredients, please ensure you have read the correct leaflet for your medication.
- Paracetamol 500mg Soluble Tablets, Patient Information Leaflet
- Paracetamol 500mg Tablets Patient Information Leaflet
To ensure you are familiar with the full list of ingredients, before commencing treatment with any medication, you must read the Patient Information Leaflet thoroughly.
Paracetamol side effects
Side effects are very rare when paracetamol tablets are taken as directed in the Patient Information Leaflet.
If you experience a severe allergic reaction to paracetamol you must seek help from your nearest emergency department immediately.
Allergic reactions to paracetamol may include:
- Rash (hives)
- Swelling of the hands, feet, mouth, lips
- Difficulty breathing
For a full list of side effects please read the Patient Information Leaflet.
Paracetamol is an analgesic (pain killer) and an antipyretic (temperature reducer). It relieves mild to moderate pain such as headaches, sprains, toothache and cold and flu symptoms and reduces fever. Paracetamol is sold under several brand names and is sometimes combined with other medications to form some well-known preparations, such as: Co-codamol: paracetamol and codeine and Co-dydramol: paracetamol and dihydrocodeine.
Paracetamol is also commonly combined with decongestants in cold and flu remedies.
When the body experiences illness or injury it releases chemicals called prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain. Paracetamol blocks the production of prostaglandins, which results in the body being less aware of pain or injury. Paracetamol also reduces fever by acting on the part of the brain that controls temperature.
Children 3 months and older can take paracetamol. Children under that age should not take paracetamol unless advised by a GP. Give your child a paracetamol medicine formulated for their age groups as the amount of paracetamol contained in a child's preparation will differ from that of an adult.
Paracetamol has been used by women throughout their stages of pregnancies to reduce fevers and relieve pain. So far, no significant evidence has been found that showsparacetamol to be harmful during pregnancy.
Paracetamol is considered the best option for pain relief during breastfeeding since only a small amount is passed through the milk and is unlikely to affect the baby.
As with all medicines, consult your pharmacist or doctor before using paracetamol during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Paracetamol should be used with caution if you have liver or kidney problems or if you have an alcohol dependence.
Never exceed the recommended dose and never take paracetamol with other paracetamol-containing medicines.
Side effects with paracetamol are rare. In the unlikely event you experience symptoms, they may include:
- A rash.
- Liver/Kidney damage when taken in high doses.
- Blood disorders.
Paracetamol taken at the recommended dose should not affect your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Paracetamol can be taken with food and moderate amounts of alcohol.
Paracetamol doesn't interact with many medicines. However, it can be a problem for those who take blood thinning medications along with prolonged, regular doses of paracetamol. If you take any prescribed or bought medication and you are worried about taking paracetamol alongside it, contact your GP.
- If you missed a dose fewer than two hours before you're due to take another dose, take the missed dose and then wait 4 hours until you take your next dose.
- If your missed dose is more than 2 hours late, ignore it and wait until your next dose is due.
- Do not exceed 8 tablets in a 24hr period. If you feel that you have taken over the recommended dose or are feeling unwell after taking paracetamol, contact your GP or A&E immediately.