Here’s the thing. If you live in Singapore, you’ve probably taken a few paracetamol tablets over the last couple of years.
That said, you may have been warned of the negative impact of consuming it with alcohol or the prospect of liver damage if you down one too many of these pills – but are these actually true?
First, the facts. Paracetamol works by inhibiting the production of pain and inflammation-causing chemicals in the brain and has been recommended by doctors to ease mild to moderate ailments – anything from a headache to fever and dental pain.
For more, we asked GSK Consumer Healthcare, the creators of Panadol, on how to use the over-the-counter medicine properly and they had some interesting facts to share.
Pass the following information on to your loved ones:
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PARACETAMOL
Paracetamol is said to be non-addictive. While there are other painkillers that may cause dependency, paracetamol supposedly leaves your system within 24 hours in most healthy adults2.
GSK doesn’t promote the mixing of paracetamol and alcohol, but it can be taken with the occasional drink or be used to treat a hangover headache. With that said, this is not recommended for heavy drinkers so as to prevent undue stress on the already vulnerable liver3.
Paracetamol is suitable for pregnant women4. It has been the most commonly used medication for fever and pain management during pregnancy for decades.
If you’ve got joint pain, you can definitely give paracetamol a go5. The drug is gentle on the stomach for everyday use, and has a low risk of interacting with other medications6 , especially for elderly members at home.
Can you overdose on paracetamol? Yes, absolutely. If you’re taking different types of medication, be sure that other pills don’t also contain paracetamol, or you may consume too much unwittingly. If you stick to the recommended dosage, the drug works fine for young kids, elderly folk7, and those with stomach problems8.
WHEN IS PARACETAMOL SUITABLE FOR YOU?
Paracetamol is for (almost) everyone, it can address a whole host of minor problems, from migraines and joint pain associated with osteoarthritis; to muscle aches, dental pain, period pain and fever. Like any drug, there are side effects if you take too much. However, paracetamol has been shown to cause fewer side effects as compared to other painkillers9. If you stay within the recommended dosage, the benefits far outweigh any side effects.
Paracetamol as one of the most researched medicines in the world, has even been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a first choice for children with fever in hospital care10 and the only medication for the treatment of dengue fever11.
If you’re ever unsure about whether paracetamol is going to help your symptoms or are unsure about the right dosage for you, we highly recommend speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.
1Markman, J. & Narasimhan, S., K. (2015). Pain. MSD Manual Consumer Version. Last accessed 19 Feb 2016. Available from: http://www.msdmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve- disorders/pain/treatment-of-pain
2Martindale: (The Complete Drug Reference). Paracetamol. (Available at: https://www.medicinescomplete.com/mc/martindale/2009/2679-p.htm, retrieved 30 May 2017)
3 Burns MJ. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) poisoning in adults: pathophysiology, presentation, and diagnosis.
4 Prescott L, American Journal of Therapeutics 7.2 2000;143-148
5Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. (2009) Guideline for the non-surgical management of hip and knee osteoarthritis. Australian Government.
6Toes, M., Jones, A. L., Prescott, L. (2005) Drug interactions with paracetamol. American Journal of Therapeutics. 12(1):56-66.
7Prescott L, American Journal of Therapeutics 7.2 2000;143-148
8Konturek, S. J. (1984). Generations of prostaglandins in gastric mucosa. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology. 101: 75-77
9Clarke GD, A. I., Dunagan FM (2008). Int J Pharm Pract 16: 1-4.
10WHO, Pocket Book Of Hospital Care For Children 2013. Pg. 274
11WHO. Dengue. Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment prevention and control. Geneva, 2009. Pg. 34