Paracetamol: Drug Overview
Paracetamol, included in the WHO list of essential medicines since 1977, is a medication primarily used to alleviate pain and reduce fever, although it lacks anti-inflammatory properties. Here, we provide comprehensive information about this medication that all mothers should be aware of.
The primary active ingredient in paracetamol is acetaminophen. Derived from this active component, various paracetamol-based medications have been formulated, including Panadol, Efferalgan Paracetamol, Efferalgan Codeine, Efferalgan, Efferalgan Vitamin C, Hapacol, and Tatanol.
Paracetamol is available in numerous formulations, with doses ranging from 100mg, 125mg, 200mg, 250mg, 325mg, 500mg, 750mg, to 1000mg.
Paracetamol is accessible in various forms, including:
- Effervescent Tablets: Popular brands like Donodol, Efferalgan, Panadol 500mg.
- Liquid Form: This includes oral solutions at concentrations of 160mg/5ml and 500mg/5ml, as well as syrups designed for children to relieve pain and reduce fever at 160mg/5ml.
- Tablet Form: Medications like Panadol, Paracetamol, and Donodol at 500mg.
- Rectal Suppositories: Prescription drugs typically contain paracetamol in dosages ranging from 30mg, 80mg, 120mg, 125mg, 150mg, 325mg, to 650mg.
Dosage (for Adults and Children)
The appropriate dosage of paracetamol varies depending on the age group and the intended use. The onset of the drug’s analgesic effect typically occurs within 30-60 minutes after administration and lasts for approximately 3-4 hours.
For Pain Relief in Adults
- Standard oral dosage: 325-650mg per dose, with intervals of 4-6 hours.
- For oral or rectal formulations, the maximum concentration per dose should not exceed 500mg, and dosing intervals should be 4-6 hours.
- If taking 500mg paracetamol tablets, the recommended dosage is 1 tablet per dose, with intervals of 4-6 hours.
For Fever Reduction in Adults
- Typical oral dosage: 325-650mg per dose, with intervals of 4-6 hours.
- Oral or rectal formulations with a maximum concentration of 1000mg per dose can be administered every 6-8 hours.
- If using 500mg paracetamol tablets, the suggested dosage is 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours.
For Fever Reduction in Children
- For children aged 4 months to 9 months, the recommended dosage is 30mg/kg per dose, administered every 6-8 hours.
- Children aged 12 years and above can follow the same dosage as adults, which ranges from 325-650mg per dose every 4-6 hours, or a maximum of 1000mg per dose every 6-8 hours.
For Pain Relief in Children
- For young children, pain relief medications can be administered either rectally or orally.
- Infants under 1 month old should only receive 10-15mg per dose every 4-6 hours, and this should be reserved for essential situations.
- Children aged 1 month to 12 years should receive 10-15mg per dose every 4-6 hours, with a maximum of 5 doses per day.
- Specialized medications for young children are often available, and parents should exercise caution and closely follow usage instructions. When administering medication to young children, diligent monitoring of their health throughout the treatment period is essential.
Paracetamol primarily serves as a pain reliever and finds application in the treatment of various conditions, including:
- Headaches: It is effective in alleviating headaches, including tension headaches, migraines, and nerve-related severe headaches.
- Muscle and Body Pain: Paracetamol is used to relieve pain stemming from muscle strains, sprains, rheumatism, stress, lower back pain, leg pain, muscle aches, stiffness, and joint swelling.
- Mild Arthritis: It provides relief from mild arthritis symptoms, although it does not address the underlying inflammation or joint swelling.
- Toothache and Sore Throat: It can be utilized to ease toothache and sore throat discomfort.
- Menstrual Pain: Paracetamol is effective in managing menstrual pain.
- Fever and Cold: It is employed to reduce fever and alleviate symptoms associated with colds.
- Specialized Uses: Paracetamol may also have specific applications as prescribed and directed by a healthcare professional.
Depending on individual sensitivity to paracetamol, its usage may result in certain side effects, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat
In more severe instances, immediate medical attention is necessary if experiencing:
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin
- Dark urine or tarry stools
- Symptoms such as mild fever accompanied by vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite
Is it Safe for Nursing Mothers to Take Paracetamol?
Wondering if nursing mothers can safely use Paracetamol? The answer is yes.
Numerous studies indicate that Paracetamol is a secure and preferred medication for breastfeeding mothers. When a mother takes Paracetamol, only a minimal amount (approximately 6%) passes into the breast milk, posing no adverse effects on the baby.
However, mothers should exercise caution and seek medical advice before using it. It’s crucial to communicate your health status, any history of allergies, and related information to your doctor. This allows the doctor to prescribe the appropriate medication and dosage, ensuring it doesn’t impact the quality of breast milk during its use.
Paracetamol Dosage for Breastfeeding Women
For breastfeeding women, the recommended Paracetamol dosage is as follows:
For Fever Reduction:
- The standard dosage is 325-600mg taken orally or rectally every 4-6 hours, or 1,000mg every 6-8 hours.
- If using 500mg Paracetamol tablets, take 2 tablets orally every 4-6 hours.
For Pain Relief:
- The typical dosage is 325-650mg taken orally or rectally every 4-6 hours, or 500mg every 6-8 hours.
- In the case of Paracetamol 500mg tablets, take 1 tablet every 4-6 hours.
Guidelines for Using Paracetamol While Breastfeeding
Mothers can safely use Paracetamol to alleviate fever and pain during breastfeeding without compromising the quality of breast milk. Nevertheless, certain principles should be followed:
- Consultation with a Healthcare Professional: It is essential for mothers to consult with a healthcare provider before using Paracetamol, especially if they have premature babies, infants with low birth weight, or specific health concerns. Prior to use, mothers should thoroughly read the product information to avoid purchasing formulations containing codeine, which may not be suitable for nursing mothers.
- Limited and Cautious Use: When using Paracetamol, mothers should administer it in low doses for a short duration. They should also closely monitor their child’s health and reactions after breastfeeding. If the baby displays symptoms such as drowsiness, reduced feeding, coma, or breathing difficulties, immediate medical attention is necessary.
- Correct Dosage: Breastfeeding mothers should adhere to the recommended dosage, which typically includes taking 2 tablets of 500mg Paracetamol at a time, with no more than 4 doses per day.
- Avoid Combining with Other Medications: Mothers should refrain from combining Paracetamol with any other medications without consulting a healthcare professional to prevent any adverse effects on the baby’s health.
- Monitor the Baby’s Response: While taking Paracetamol, mothers should regularly observe their baby’s reactions after breastfeeding. If the infant exhibits signs of irritability, changes in feeding patterns, or diarrhea, mothers should discontinue the medication and seek immediate medical advice.
- Avoid Stimulants: It’s advisable for mothers to refrain from consuming alcohol, stimulants, or coffee while using Paracetamol, as these substances can heighten the risk of liver damage.
When Should Mothers Avoid Using Paracetamol?
There are certain situations in which mothers should refrain from using Paracetamol to prevent significant health risks, including potential life-threatening consequences such as:
- Severe Liver and Kidney Failure: Paracetamol should not be used if the mother is experiencing severe liver and kidney failure. This is because the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream and processed by the liver in various forms, some of which can be toxic to the liver, exacerbating the existing medical condition.
- Anemia: Prolonged use of Paracetamol can lead to a substantial loss of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood. Mothers with anemia should avoid Paracetamol as it can worsen their condition.
- G6PD Deficiency: Mothers should not take Paracetamol if their child has a deficiency in the G6PD enzyme. Paracetamol can easily pass into the child’s body through breast milk in such cases, negatively impacting the child’s health and rendering them more susceptible to diseases, viral infections, and bacterial infections.
The preceding article has provided comprehensive answers to queries from breastfeeding mothers regarding the use of Paracetamol. While it is a safe and preferred medication for breastfeeding mothers, caution is still paramount when using it. We hope this article has equipped mothers with valuable knowledge to enhance their breastfeeding experience. Wishing all mothers a successful and fulfilling journey through motherhood!
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.