What is paracetamol?
Paracetamol is a pharmaceutical drug, which is used to treat a number of conditions including:
• Mild pain
• Strong pain (when combined with codeine)
• Colds and flu (when combined with antihistamines and decongestants)
• Some people misuse paracetamol by intentionally taking more than the recommended dose in a mistaken attempt to get high, or as an act of self-harm.
Paracetamol is usually swallowed and comes in different forms including:
• Soluble powders
Paracetamol may also be known by its brand or trade names.
Effects of paracetamol
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk – even medications can produce unwanted side effects. Paracetamol affects everyone differently, based on:
• Size, weight and health
• Whether the person is used to taking it
• Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
• The amount taken
The most common side effects of paracetamol are:
• Drowsiness and fatigue
• Rashes and itching
Children may occasionally experience low blood sugar and tremors, and feeling hungry, faint and confused after taking paracetamol.
If the dose is too high or the recommended daily dose is exceeded, an ambulance should be called straight away by dialling 999. Overdose symptoms, listed below, usually only occur 24 hours after taking the drug.
• Abdominal pain, nausea, vomitingg
• Liver problems
• Coma and death
Death from paracetamol overdose often takes a couple of days and is usually very painful.
Regular use of paracetamol may eventually cause the following effects. It’s best to discuss the side effects of long-term use with a medical practitioner.
• Bluish tinge to fingers and lips
• Anaemia (low red blood cell count)
• Liver and kidney damage