Paracetamol Is Good

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What is Paracetamol?

Paracetamol, also called acetaminophen, is a medication that is used for the management of pain and fever. It was discovered in the late 19th Century, and became widely used since the mid-20th Century. Among its group of painkillers, called aniline analgesics, it is the only one still in use. This is because paracetamol is good in the management of fever and mild to moderate pain, despite being largely underrated and taken for granted.

Under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pain Management Guidelines, paracetamol is the cornerstone in the management of mild pain, with or without adjuvant therapy. This should already partly answer the question, “is paracetamol good?”

Paracetamol is thought to exert its activities by altering some chemicals in the nervous system, that are responsible for producing pain and fever. It therefore interrupts the messages and brings relief from these distressing symptoms. It however does not cure the underlying cause of pain or fever, which has to be investigated by Health Professionals and dealt with definitively.

 

Is Paracetamol an Anti-inflammatory?

Paracetamol does have a little or minimal anti-inflammatory activity. But it does not have activity against the enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (“COX”). As a result, it is not considered to be one of the Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

Paracetamol and nonsteroidal anti inflammatory agents (including aspirin or ASA) are recommended as the agents of choice in the WHO analgesic ladder, for the management of mild pain.

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In What Form Is Paracetamol Available?

Paracetamol is available in several different forms, for use in many different situations and age groups.

1. There is a syrup which is used for children. It can be useful for adults who for any reason are unable to swallow solids.

Most of the available preparations are of two strengths:

  • 120mg per 5ml
  • 250mg per 5ml

2. Paracetamol is also available as a powder, which can be used for children. The powder may also be available in combination with other painkillers such as aspirin, with or without other medications. These powdered combinations are for use in adults

3. There are tablets of 500mg (occasionally capsules)

These are usually white, thick and scored tablets (to aid breaking into half). These tablets have a little bit of a bitter taste especially if kept for a long time in the mouth.

4. There are suppositories which are inserted into the rear passage (rectum). The suppositories are very useful for patients who are unable to take medications by mouth, such as those with a decreased level of concentration, those with nausea or vomiting, or those not eating in the peri-operative period.

Suppositories are available for children and for adults.

5. Paracetamol injection, which is administered into the veins (intravenously) is available but fairly expensive.

Like suppositories, intravenous paracetamol is useful for patients who cannot take by mouth, and acts fast and efficiently.

(6. Paracetamol is also available in combination with other drugs. These formulations are discussed below, under Precautions.)

What Is The Dose of Paracetamol?

* For both children and adults, paracetamol is taken in divided daily doses, with intervals of 4 – 6 hours. The total daily dose should never be exceeded, and the interval should not be less than 4 hours.

To adequately manage significant (e.g. chronic) mild to moderate pain, it is important that paracetamol is taken REGULARLY rather than episodically or “when needed”.

For children

The dose is based on the child’s weight. This has to be observed strictly.

The dose is 10 – 15mg per kg of body weight.

For example, a child of 10kg (average 1 year old) is given 100 – 150mg of paracetamol.

Most paracetamol syrup preparations are conveniently labelled to show how many millilitres of the medication should be given to children of what weight or age range.

For adults

It is important to use the correct and adequate dose of paracetamol in order to achieve good results. In many instances, paracetamol is criticised as being weak or ineffective, when it is not being taken correctly.

  • The dose is 500 – 1000mg (0.5 – 1g) four to six times daily.
  • The maximum total daily dose is 4g (4000mg).
  • The dose is decreased in the elderly (over 70 years old).

Advantages of Paracetamol Over Other Painkillers

Compared to other painkillers, paracetamol tends to be the safest, with very few adverse effects. This is why it is the preferred agent for mild pain in most instances.

Paracetamol does not cause upper GIT bleeding (bleeding from the stomach and first part of the small intestines) or peptic ulceration. These adverse events occur commonly with the nonsteroidal anti inflammatory agents, especially in the elderly and people with predisposing factors. Pain in the elderly (patients over 70 years of age) should by all means, be managed with paracetamol, even for conditions like osteoarthritis.

Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory agent, has been found to cause a worse outcome in patients with COVID-19, caused by the novel Coronavirus. Paracetamol is the preferred and well tolerated agent in these cases.

Paracetamol does not cause dependence (addiction), which is a big problem with the opioid painkillers, causing a serious epidemic in many countries.

Opiates also frequently cause constipation as a side effect. This can be obviated by using paracetamol, if the pain is not of severe intensity. However, in chronic use or abuse, paracetamol, like other painkillers, can cause constipation by making the bowel sluggish (paralytic ileus).

Paracetamol is very good for the symptomatic management of viral illnesses like coryza, bronchiolitis or chicken pox in children. It effectively reduces fever and pain, and makes the child comfortable.

Precautions

Although paracetamol is relatively safe compared to other painkillers, it must be handled with utmost caution. This is because paracetamol overdose is very dangerous and potentially lethal. Paracetamol can badly damage the liver, even in mild overdose. It is one of the commonest causes of death from drug overdose globally.

Particular care should be taken with cough and cold medications, as many contain paracetamol. Inadvertent overdose does occur when these preparations are taken with additional paracetamol for management of fever and pain.

Paracetamol is also found in combination with other painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, or codeine. Inadvertent paracetamol overdosing, such as occurs with cough and cold medications, can and does occur with combination painkillers, if the presence of paracetamol is not noted when top-up paracetamol is taken. The other danger of combination analgesics, popular as they are, is that they have a higher potential to damage the kidneys and cause “analgesic nephropathy”, than single agents.

Conclusion

Paracetamol is a good, safe and very useful medication for the treatment of fever and pain, which can be used for paediatric, adult and elderly patients in many clinical situations. If WHO Pain Management Guidelines are followed properly, the majority of patients with mild to moderate pain can be managed safely and successfully starting first with paracetamol and then stepping up as needed.

17 Replies to “Paracetamol Is Good”

  1. Thank you for this detailed article about paracetamol. As a parent, it is a relief to know that paracetamol is safe to kids and adults. Paracetamol is one of our must-haves in our medicine kit just in case our kids get a fever, which thankfully they get very seldom. We want to heal naturally as much as possible, but it is very nice to know that there are medications that are safe and without adverse side effects when taken.

    1. Hi Julai,

      I am glad that you found useful information for those rare situations where you would like to use medication.

      Thanks for reading through the article and providing valuable input!

  2. Hello there,

    This is an amazing article that you have got here. Paracetamol is a widely used drug that tends to surpress a lot of ailments as well as better the health condition of a sick person. It is great for me to know that there are more effects to paracetamol. I’m so glad that you have shared this information about paracetamol.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Very informative and beautifully laid out.

    I have a much clearer understanding of this med.

    I had never thought about the folks who can’t take oral meds and the options available.

    The details of dodgers were extremely helpful, especially where children are concerned.

    My only suggestion would be to keep it as conversational as possible and not too text book.

    Great job on this Site!

    Thank you for your work!

    Best 

    Aaron 

    1. Hi Aaron,

      Thanks so very much for reading the article and providing your valuable input.

      Thanks for commenting on the website too – it’s really encouraging.

      More and more effort will be put into making the writing conversational, because this is definitely not an academic platform, but one that people visit when they have questions, and they need to “hear” and “feel” the answers.

      Warmest regards.

  4. I usually don’t take anything for pain, but I will surely take a look in the future for Paraceramol, as it may help witb h the very ocassional headaches I get. I just don’t like to use too many pills, although I understand that if I follow the doctor’s orders it won’t affect my health in a bad way.

  5. Hey nice article you have there. Your thoughts are indeed invaluable. It is a clear fact that paracetamol is most effective in mild headache and feverish condition, but one cannot abuse it’s usage , it is preferable to seek Doctor’s prescription before any intake of such. Nevertheless, Adults can usually take one or two 500mg tablets every 4-6 hours but shouldn’t take more than 4g (500mg tablets) in the space of 24 hours

  6. Hello dear, I am really amazed with the quality content I saw on your article, your writing skills and choice if words are amazing, paracetamol has been helpful to the whole world as a whole, I even used it yesterday cause I was having a little headache, all am saying Is that the world can’t do without the help of paracetamol, cause its ability of sudden heal ness is nice, thanks alot

  7. Hello there,  thank you for this very detailed and informative post on paracetamol, I have been using paracetamol from my childhood and even till now,  I still use it for my children but I haven’t really find time to really research about it and why it is such an important drug,  because most of the times when my doctor prescribe drug for me there must be paracetamol but noe I really kno better and more it’s functions. 

    1. Thanks.

      Paracetamol is indeed a very useful medication for the whole family, from generation to generation.

      But we need to fully educate ourselves about its proper use and storage in the home.

  8. According to my science knowledge, a very scientific and informative article. It is written extremely well. The research and hard work that the author must have put in writing this article is clearly evident. Every detail and fact about the drug paracetamol drug has been listed here. It is a drug that is most commonly found in our homes. Therefore, it makes it imperative for everyone to know all these details about this drug. I am going to share this article with all my family members and as well as my friends. Brilliant work is done by the author and I collected more information from this post. thanks a lot

    1. Hi,

      Thanks so very much! ☺️

      Paracetamol is a very useful medication for the whole family, from the Granny to the new baby. We therefore need to know how to use it in a way that will give results, at the same time observing safety precautions.

      Kind regards.

  9. Paracetamol is definitely the only drug I would recommend to anyone for pain relief as it is the safest which is what you mentioned in your article. I think this is the only safest drug for both children and adults providing as you mention you stick to the recommended dose. Definitely my preference

    1. Thanks very much for your input Imelda.

      Paracetamol is so safe. It is so effective and so underrated.

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