- Education and Science
What and how to use paracetamol
Paracetamol is the most used painkiller in the world. Paracetamol or acetaminophen is used all over the world since 1893. It's thought that it's a relatively innocent medicine to relieve pain, but be careful because sometimes it isn't.
When do you use paracetamol?
Pain is a sign of something being wrong. It can be used for all kinds of pains. From headaches to post - operative pain.
Fever is nothing more than a symptom of your body fighting bacteria and viruses. But it isn't really pleasant. The same with the muscle aches that often go hand in hand with a real good fever. With heart or lung diseases it's better to suppress the fever because the fever can make it worse.
Sometimes children can get real high fever. Most of the time they get suppositories. Especially when they feel nausea too. (That's with adults too)
Half an hour after you've taken the paracetamol, the fever will come down for approximate six hours.
For tablets of 500 mg each:
- children from 6-9 years: ½ tablet, 4-6 times a day
- children from 9-12 years: 1 tablet, 3-4 times a day
- children from 12-15 years: 1 tablet, 4-6 times a day
- Adults: 1-2 tablets max. 6 times a day
Dangers of paracetamol
Instead of being an innocent medicine you can just buy everywhere, you have to mind the following dangers when you are using it.
- Some people are very sensitive of paracetamol. They can get a rash, swollen tong or troath.
- When you take paracetamol for a very long period (months or years) you can get liver or kidney damage.
- When you overdose your liver will be damaged permanently when you take 16 tablets once, you have to warn a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. When a child does this, it's even worse. A child could die with such amounts of paracetamol. They can get permanent liver damage when they get the amount they can have in 24 hours in one dose. You especially have to be careful with sweetened liquid paracetamol. It's easy to give them too much with that.
- Blood deviations, high fever, a sore troath and mouth ulcer, can be side effects when you take too much.
- When you use paracetamol too often, you can develop headaches. And probably because you get a headache, you will take another one and another one. And before you know, you can live without it.
- It's very important not to take more than prescript. The normal maximum dose is one step away from the toxic or even for some lethal dose. It's easy to get large amounts and so it has been used for suicide attempts. Dying from a overdose of paracetamol however is a slow and very pain full death.
- Paracetamol can be dangerous when used with other kinds of medication like chlooramfenicol (used with bacterial infections), zidovudine (used to treat Aids); blood deviations occur (neutropenia); When used in combination with alcohol or sedatives you might develop liver damage sooner.
When you notice someone or yourself got an overdose, it can be treated when you act right away.
A doctor can treat it with acetylcysteïne (Lysomucil, Fluimucil) so liver or kidney damage can be prevented. Norit activated carbon can help (sometimes with laxative) but that only works when overdosed a real short time before.
When you need advice
There are more complications than I named here. I don't want to scare you, but I just want to let people know that however this medicine is easy to get, it still is a medicine that needs to be taken with a lot of care. Like with all medicine. When you use it and still have pain, please go to your doctor.
Every year a lot of ‘accidents 'happen with paracetamol. Not only at people's homes, but also in nursery homes. A lot of elderly get too much and suffer from the complications. Always read the instructions when you start to use. When you use it like it has to be used, there are hardly any dangers, but remember, it isn't just an innocent medication.