Paracetamol / Codeine
A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.
What is paracetamol/codeine?
Paracetamol/codeine is a combination of two pain-killers - paracetamol and codeine. It is used to treat severe pain, including muscular pains, joint pains, migraine and toothache. Low-dose paracetamol/codeïne can be purchased at a pharmacy but higher dosage paracetamol/codeïne is a prescription-only medication.
How does paracetamol/codeine treat pain?
The two different elements paracetamol and codeine block pain in different ways. Paracetamol appears to work by affecting chemical receptors that tell us that we are feeling pain, causing the brain to prevent pain signals from travelling to the rest of the body. Codeine is an opiate analgesic that provides pain relief by imitating endorphins, the body's natural pain-killers.
How to take paracetamol/codeine?
Always follow the directions provided with the medication or your doctor. Do not take any other medications containing paracetamol when taking paracetamol/codeine. It is usually only prescribed for two to three days due to the risk of addiction.
Paracetamol/codeine is supplied in the form of tablets or capsules. They should be swallowed whole, one at a time, with a glass of water. Soluble tablets are available for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets and these can be dissolved in water and then drunk.
A typical dose for an adult would be one to two capsules taken every between four to six hours as required. Do not exceed the recommended dosage. Paracetamol/codeine is not suitable for children under the age of 12 because of the severe risk of breathing problems, but children aged between 12-15 years can take it if other forms of pain relief are not working.
What are the side effects of paracetamol/codeine?
Paracetamol/codeine has many side effects including but not limited to abdominal pain; long-term addiction; agranulocytosis; blood disorder; irritability; pancreatitis; restlessness; severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs); and thrombocytopenia.
Liver damage (and rarely renal damage) is a consequence of overdosage with paracetamol.
When it is not advisable to take paracetamol/codeine?
Paracetamol/codeine is unsuitable for people who have:
- Liver problems;
- Head injury;
- Adrenal problems;
- Lung problems or difficulty breathing.
Paracetamol/codeine can interact with certain medication so always disclose the details of any medications you are taking with the doctor or pharmacist including OTC medications and herbal remedies.
Pregnancy / Breastfeeding / Driving / Alcohol
Paracetamol/codeine is not generally recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as there are many other safer medications to try first. Codeine is not considered a safe medication to take during pregnancy.
Paracetamol/codeine may cause drowsiness so caution is advised before driving or operating heavy machinery when taking the medication. The effects of alcohol may also be enhanced.