PARACETAMOL is a fixture in medicine cabinets across the nation, but how exactly should you take the pain killer?
Here is the lowdown on everything you need to know about paracetamol andwhether it should be taken with or without food.
How and when to take paracetamol?
Paracetamol is a well-known pain-relieving tablet that can be used to treat aches, pains, and high temperatures.
The medicine is available in tablet form which is swallowed whole with water.
For those who struggle to swallow whole tablets, paracetamol is also available in syrup form or as a soluble tablet.
The NHS website says that paracetamol is safe to use at the correct dose of one or two tablets up to four times in 24 hours.
For example, if you take your first dose of one or two tablets (or the equivalent alternative form) at 9am then you should not take a second dose until 1pm.
You could then take the third dose at 5pm and a fourth and final dose at 9pm, which comes to a total of four doses of one or two tablets in 24 hours.
Whatever time you start to take paracetamol, it is important to leave four hours until you take the next dose.
The NHS says that whilst one or two extra tablets taken over the recommended dosage would be ok, however, any more could lead to serious health problems.
The NHS website says: "Overdosing on paracetamol can cause serious side effects. Do not be tempted to increase the dose or to take a double dose if your pain is very bad."
Adhering to the dosage guidelines is essential.
A study by Oxford University says: "Most people have no idea of the maximum daily dose of paracetamol.In the UK about one in four people frequently exceeds the maximum daily dose."
How long does it take for paracetamol to work?
Paracetamol takes up to an hour to work according to the NHS website with a usual dose of one or two 500mg tablets.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that "Paracetamol is available in immediate-release (short-acting) and modified release (long-acting) preparations."
However, researchers at Oxford University say that "paracetamol can provide pain relief, but only for a small number of people. For postoperative pain, perhaps one in four people benefit; for headache perhaps one in ten."
Can I take paracetamol before eating?
According to the NHS website, paracetamol can be taken with or without food.
As with all medicines, there are many dos and don'ts, and paracetamol is no different.
It is important to read the guidelines on the packaging and to consult with your GP regarding any medications you are taking.
If you take too many paracetamol tablets you should call 999 for emergency medical care.
If you have other medical concerns you should call the NHS Helpline on 111.
It is always important to discuss health issues with your GP.
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