Acetaminophen or Paracetamol is a widely used analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer) drug that is used for the relief of backaches, osteoarthritis, headaches, menstrual periods, toothaches, or cold/flu aches and pains. Get to know how Acetaminophen works, its side effects, precautions, and contraindications where Acetaminophen is not suggested.
How does Acetaminophen work?
Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before a person feels it. It is not an anti-inflammatory/NSAID.
It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating centre of the brain. Specifically, it tells the centre to lower the body’s temperature when the temperature is elevated.
It is used in following conditions:
- Fever and Pain-It is used to treat cold and flu, headache, backache, and fever.
- Osteoarthritis-It is used to treat symptoms like joint stiffness, painful joints of the knee, hip, neck, lower back associated with Osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis-It is used to treat symptoms like joint stiffness, pain, and swelling associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Dysmenorrhea-Acetaminophen is used to treat pain and cramps during menstruation
Acetaminophen also used in:
- Dental pain
- Sprains of muscles and joints
- Mild to moderate pain in cases like kidney stones and gallstones
- Polymyositis (inflammation of muscles)
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain
The recommended dosage of acetaminophen:
- The oral dose for adults is 325 to 650 mg every 4-6 hours.
- The maximum daily dose is 4 grams.
- The oral dose for a child is based on the child’s age, and the range is 40-650 mg every 4 hours.
- Individuals should not use acetaminophen for more than 10 days for the treatment of pain or more than 4 days for treatment of a fever unless directed by a physician.
Ketconazole is the drug which shows interaction with acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen contraindicated in following conditions:
Avoid if you have allergy to Acetaminophen or other NSAIDs
Acetaminophen is contraindicated if you are diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory complications.
If you are suffering from any bleeding disorder Acetaminophen is not recommended for you. It could cause severe swelling and bleed in the intestines, stomach, and anus.
Acetaminophen side effects:
- The most common Acetaminophen side effects are abdominal pain, rash, ringing in ears, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhoea, nausea, heartburn and constipation.
- Serious Acetaminophen side effects is ulceration of the stomach or intestine, and the ulcers may bleed
- Allergic reactions (especially in people who have asthma)
- Reduction of blood flow to the kidneys and impaired function of the kidneys
Doctor’s advice for Acetaminophen Tablet:
- Acetaminophen is a very safe and well-tolerated medicine for short-term use
- Consuming high dose or taking long time Acetaminophen can cause kidney problems and stomach bleeding
- If you are suffering from kidney disease, inform your doctor first. Your dose may need to be adjusted
- When you taking Acetaminophen, Avoid excess intake of alcohol, together they can affect your liver
- If you have taken overdoses of Acetaminophen, immediately inform your doctor or contact a hospital emergency and you are feeling unwell.
Taking more than prescribed Acetaminophen may cause harmful side effects. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you find any side effects.
If you miss the dosage take as soon as possible, and if it is near to next dose, skip the missing dosage continue the regular dosage. Do not take extra doses.
Acetaminophen is not known to cause any harm to the foetus, but should only be used after consultation with your doctor.
Acetaminophen is safe to use during breastfeeding. Before taking this medicine consult your doctor.
Precautions before taking Acetaminophen tablet:
Some medications are not suitable for people with certain ailments, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking Acetaminophen, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have stomach ulcer, or if you have an inflammatory bowel disorder such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- If you have asthma or any other allergic disorder
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- If you have high blood pressure
- If you have a heart condition or a problem with your circulation or blood vessels
- If you have any blood clotting problems
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any other medicines (such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen), or to any other NSAIDs.
- If you have liver and kidney problems.
Substitutes for Acetaminophen:
NSAIDS which are both anti-inflammatory and pain killers can be substituted with Acetaminophen. Few of them are
If for some reason an experienced doctor is not available around you, then you can contact us here.
Dr. Divya has been pursuing Dentistry for about 5 years now. Endodontics and Orthodontics are her areas of interest and she holds a BDS degree from Govt. Dental College, Vijayawada, AP. Besides pursuing her career as a Dentist, she is passionate about Technical writing and is spending her free time in writing medical articles to bring awareness and share medical knowledge to the public.