The painkilling properties of paracetamol were discovered by accident when a similar molecule (acetanilide) was added to a patient’s prescription about 100 years ago. But since acetanilide is toxic in moderate doses, chemists modified its structure to try and find a compound that was less harmful but which still retained the analgesic properties. Paracetamol is used to treat many conditions such as headache, muscle aches, arthritis, backache, toothaches, colds, and fevers. It relieves pain in mild arthritis but has no effect on the underlying inflammation and swelling of the joint.
This drug is used to treat mild to moderate pain (from headaches, menstrual periods, toothaches, backaches, osteoarthritis, or cold/flu aches and pains) and to reduce fever. Paracetamol is a common painkiller and is available to buy from many retail outlets as tablets/capsules and as liquid medicine. Many brands of ‘overthe- counter’ combination painkillers contain paracetamol, as do many cold and flu remedies. It is important that you check the label on any preparation that you buy to make sure that you are not taking more than one preparation containing paracetamol.
How to use Paracetamol
Take this product by mouth as directed. Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist. There are many brands and forms of acetaminophen available. Read the dosing instructions carefully for each product because the amount of acetaminophen may be different between products. For rapidly-dissolving tablets, chew or allow to dissolve on the tongue, then swallow with or without water. For chewable tablets, chew thoroughly before swallowing.
If you are giving acetaminophen to a child, be sure you use a product that is meant for children. Use your child’s weight to find the right dose on the product package. If you don’t know your child’s weight, you can use their age.
For suspensions, shake the medication well before each dose. Some liquids do not need to be shaken before use. Follow all directions on the product package. Measure the liquid medication with the provided dose-measuring spoon/dropper/syringe to make sure you have the correct dose. Do not use a household spoon.
Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
This drug usually has no side effects. If you have any unusual effects, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/ swelling (especially of the face/tongue/ throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
Before taking acetaminophen, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, regular use/abuse of alcohol.
Liquid products, chewable tablets, or dissolving/effervescent tablets may contain sugar or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/ avoid these substances in your diet. If you have any of these conditions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about using these products safely. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication. Acetaminophen passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.