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Paracetamol is an over the counter (OTC) medication that is effective at treating the symptoms of: mild pain, headaches, toothache, moderate muscular pain, colds, and period pain. It can also be useful in helping to lower a high temperature.

How Paracetamol Works

Although paracetamol is a very popular pain reliever, oddly, we still don’t know exactly how it works. Experts believe that paracetamol relieves pain by lowering the levels of prostaglandins in the spinal cord and the brain. Prostaglandins are responsible for making you feel pain. The body produces this to prevent you from causing further harm to the affected area. Paracetamol is believed to increase our pain threshold.

When it comes to fever, paracetamol acts on the area of the brain that controls our body temperature.

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What is paracetamol?

Paracetamol is a drug that’s used to treat mild to moderate pain. It’s also used to reduce fever. It’s available in tablets, suppository, and liquid forms.

How does paracetamol work?

It is believed that paracetamol works by blocking the chemical messengers in our brain that signal we are in pain. In terms of reducing the symptoms of fever, a similar process happens, affecting the chemical messengers which regulate body temperature.

When should paracetamol be taken?

Paracetamol can be taken if you are experiencing aches and pains or if you have a high temperature. You should take it as soon as symptoms occur.

How to take paracetamol

For best results, swallow two 500mg tablets when symptoms occur, waiting 4 hours between doses if symptoms continue. Never take more than 4 doses (8 tablets) within 24 hours. Paracetamol can be taken with or without food.

How to Use Paracetamol

You can take paracetamol with or without food. The normal dose for adults is one or two 500mg tablets every 6 hours (4 times a day). Do not take more than 8 tablets of paracetamol in one day as it could lead to overdose.

Your doctor may advise you to take regular doses or as needed to relieve pain. Make sure to wait 4 hours between each dose.

Paracetamol is safe to use while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Most doctors recommend taking the lowest dose at the lowest frequency.

Caution: Paracetamol is often included in many treatments. Make sure to avoid any treatment containing paracetamol when taking this medicine. Paracetamol 500mg is not for children. Ask your doctor for advice.

Paracetamol Side Effects

The side effects of paracetamol are very rare. If you take more than the recommended dose, you risk damage to your kidneys and liver. You may also develop a skin rash and blood disorders when taking excessive amounts of paracetamol. Even if you feel well, talk to your doctor immediately so he can provide you with immediate treatment for paracetamol overdose.

If you think you have an allergy to paracetamol (i.e. you develop a skin rash, experience tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, and swelling of face, lips, tongue, and throat, etc.), stop taking the drug immediately and contact your doctor.


Is it OK to take paracetamol everyday?

According to the NHS, it is safe to take paracetamol everyday for many years, providing that you stick to the recommended dosage. Never take more than 4 doses (8 tablets) within 24 hours.

Do I need a prescription to buy paracetamol?

As it is an over the counter treatment, you can buy paracetamol without a prescription from your doctor.

Can children take paracetamol?

Paracetamol 500mg tablets should not be given to children under the age of 10. Instead, you can give them paracetamol in a liquid form which has strengths tailored to their age.

Can I take paracetamol when pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes - you can take paracetamol when pregnant or breastfeeding. It is unlikely to harm your baby if you stick to the recommended dose. However, if you have any concern, it is wise to speak to your GP or midwife before taking it.

Is it possible to be allergic to paracetamol?

Although incredibly rare, it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to paracetamol.

What is the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen?

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are very similar - they can both be used to treat pain and fevers. The main difference between the two is that ibuprofen also reduces inflammation. This is because ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).


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Patient Information

Before taking any medication, it is important to read the Patient Information Leaflet. You can find the information by searching for your treatment on Medicines.org.uk.

If you have any questions about your treatment please refer to Medicines.org.uk or contact us.

Paracetamol Patient Information Leaflet

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