Paracetamol is one of the trade names of the drug based on acetaminophen. In addition to its weak anti-inflammatory effect, Paracetamol has significant antipyretic and analgesic effects.
Paracetamol is a non-opioid analgesic, so it does not cause drug dependence. Acetaminophen in its composition acts on biologically active substances – prostaglandins. Prostaglandins affect the thermoregulatory center, resulting in increased body temperature. Prostaglandins are also involved in increasing the sensitivity of nerve cells to stimuli and, therefore, in pain perception. These biologically active substances are involved in the process of inflammation. Therefore, reducing the production of prostaglandins under the influence of Paracetomol helps to reduce the body temperature and provide an analgesic effect.
The analgesic effect of Paracetamol is suitable for many types of pain, although it is less pronounced than with opioid analgesics.
This drug is suited for fighting weak and moderate pain (headache and migraine, neuralgia, arthralgia, myalgia, algodismenorrhea, aftermath of an injury and surgery). In addition, Paracetamol is used in lowering the body temperature of patients with infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Paracetamol is a drug that, when used properly, is well tolerated. Side effects from its use are rare.
Rare side effects
- Allergic reactions: skin rash, skin redness, swelling of eyelids, lips, throat, and others;
- Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver: pain in the abdomen and under the ribs on the right side, nausea;
- Pale skin, excessive bleeding due to reduced number of platelets in the blood;
- Kidney disorders: nephritis, turbidity of urine.
All the side effects of Paracetamol are rare, and usually occur when the dosing is violated or the permissible dose of the medicine exceeded. However, inform your doctor if you develop any adverse reaction.
Serious side effects
- Pain in the right upper quadrant (in the liver area);
- Diarrhea, loss of appetite, dark urine;
- Yellowness of the skin and sclera, rarely – itching;
- Seizures, in severe cases – coma;
- Heart malfunction;
- Abnormally low amount of urine;
- Formation of ulcer in the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, or bleeding from them (this effect is very rare, and therefore it cannot even be reliably attributed to the influence of the drug on the mucosa, because the ulcer could for the first time appear during treatment with Paracetamol, but independent of it).
Serious side effects are rare, but with any such manifestations, you should seek immediate medical attention to prevent serious complications.
Pronounced changes in blood tests during treatment with Paracetamol is little common and can develop in cases of prolonged and regular use of the drug. During the use of Paracetamol, the following were observed: thrombocytopenia, methemoglobinemia, anemia, pancytopenia, and agranulocytosis.
Side effects in children
Children are more resistant to the adverse effects of Paracetamol on the liver than adults are. This is due to the slightly different mechanisms of transformation and excretion of the drug from the body of the child and the adult. In adults, Paracetamol tends to form unstable compounds that are toxic to the liver, which are well excreted with a single dose of the medicine, but their excretion is more difficult with regular use of high doses of acetaminophen. In this case, these compounds have time to have a toxic effect on the liver. In children, this is usually not the case due to the nature of metabolism. However, many experts do not recommend giving Paracetamol to children under the age of 3 months. In any case, it is best to consult with your doctor on the possibility of giving Paracetamol to a child.
Side effects during pregnancy and breast-feeding
Pregnant women can take this drug but they need to consult with their doctor first. Acetaminophen passes into breast milk in very small amounts. But if during breastfeeding period you took the drug or plan to take it, consult with a specialist about the possibility of continuing to breastfeed your baby.
Side effects in the elderly
Elderly people suffer more often from liver diseases, and a reduction in liver function. Therefore, they need to be especially careful during treatment with acetaminophen. You can consult with your doctor on whether it is necessary to use this drug in your case.
Overdose of the drug can occur when used unreasonably, without limitation, and with a significant excess of the recommended dose.
Symptoms of Paracetamol overdose may include:
- Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea;
- Seizures, sweating, irritability, and coma.
The symptoms may not appear immediately and even 12 or more hours after taking the drug. If you develop the symptoms of Paracetamol overdose, seek immediate medical attention.
Warnings and recommendations
The drug is more suitable for a single use, or for short-term treatment (for example, during a cold to reduce high body temperature if there are indications to this).
Due to the nature of transformation of this drug in the body, prolonged regular use of high doses of acetaminophen can lead to toxic liver damage.
Since most of the load during excretion of Paracetomol from the body falls on the liver and partly on the kidney, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking the drug.
Before taking Paracetamol, inform your doctor if you have ulcers, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, and drug allergies.
Since Paracetamol sometimes changes laboratory test results (for example, blood tests), notify the doctor first that you took this medication the day before or on the day of examination. This also applies to body temperature since the drug lowers the body temperature, and the test results can be unreliable.
Paracetamol and alcohol
Paracetamol and alcohol can mutually weigh down on each other’s toxic effects on the liver. Moreover, the more the dose of Paracetamol, the higher the risk of such effect. The risk of liver damage is increased by treatment with Paracetamol during systematic abuse of alcohol, or alcohol use along with this drug by patients with liver disease.