Paracetamol is quite popular these days. This drug is being prescribed and bought over-the-counter by both COVID-19 infected and people suffering from cold and flu. The ongoing pandemic and change in the weather have driven people to seek paracetamol as a quick relief measure from fever and body pain.
Given the rise in demand, let’s understand what this is, how it works and when it should be taken.
It is an analgesic
Paracetamol belongs to a group of medicines called analgesics a.k.a painkillers. Analgesics are used in relieving symptoms such as pain (anywhere in the body) and reducing high temperature. This prescription drug can also be combined with other medicines to treat a wide range of conditions including cold and flu.
“Paracetamol takes usually one hour to show its healing effect.”
Some people need to take extra care
Paracetamol is effective and safe and can even be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women. But always keep in mind that one should never take paracetamol without a doctor’s advice. Also, you need to check with your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- Allergy to paracetamol or analgesics
- Severe liver or kidney problems
- Taking medicines for epilepsy or tuberculosis
- Taking blood-thinning medicines
“Children below 10 years of age should not be given paracetamol 500 mg tablets.”
Follow dosage instructions carefully
Always take paracetamol as and when instructed by your doctor. It is strictly advised not to take more than the recommended dose. If you need this medicine three times a day then consider it a warning sign and get in touch with your doctor immediately. Here are a few things you need to remember:
- Always swallow tablets with a drink of water
- Wait at least 6 hours before taking the next dose
- Do not take more than 4 doses in 24 hours
“Overdosing on paracetamol can lead to serious side effects.”
There may be possible side effects
Paracetamol can cause side effects but not everyone gets them. Stop taking paracetamol and consult your doctor or visit a hospital immediately if you experience any of the following conditions:
- Serious skin rashes, redness and itching
- Swelling of hands, feet, face or lips
- Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
“Rashes, swelling and wheezing indicate that you are having an allergic reaction.”
Things to keep in mind while storing paracetamol
- Keep out of sight and reach of children
- Do not use past its expiration date
- Store medicine in original packaging to avoid moisture
- Do not throw it directly in the waste
“Ask a pharmacist how to throw away expired medicines as such measures help protect the environment.”
Key things to keep in mind
- Always take the medicine on prescription
- Check with your doctor about dosage if you are taking any herbal or vitamin supplements
- It is safe to take it with other medicines
- There can be a risk of overdose if you take two medicines containing paracetamol
- Never take double doses
- It is also available in soluble or syrup form
- It can be taken with or without food
- If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. But skip the missed dose if it’s nearly time for your next dose.
“Taking medicines without consulting a doctor (SELF-MEDICATION) can have serious effects on your health.”
Paracetamol in COVID-19 times
Since COVID-19 infection and monsoon illnesses are on the rise, over-the-counter (OTC) sales of paracetamol in pharmacies have gone up. It has been predicted that in a month or so, there may be a shortage of this drug. In our country, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, classifies paracetamol as a household remedy and can be sold over-the-counter, without a prescription from a registered doctor. Some experts believe that putting restrictions on this drug can put people into hardship as it is a go-to medicine for regular fever and cold.
Therefore, it is advisable to take paracetamol only when you show symptoms like fever or body pain. Do not hoard medicine. During the pandemic, it is important that you be sensible and take every precaution necessary to protect yourself and your family.
If you are experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, sore throat or breathing difficulties, it is advised that you consult a doctor as soon as possible. Get your symptoms assessed by top doctors on your phone on the MFine app.