Monday, February 28th, 2011

Know More about Paracetamol

ParacetamolEach time you get a nasty headache or are running under the weather, you pop a paracetamol to earn relief. Used for years this is a trusted painkiller across all ages. Let’s find more—

Paracetamol, known as acetaminophen in the United States, is a painkiller that is popular throughout the world because it is remarkably safe and it does not irritate the stomach. Paracetamol was first discovered to have both analgesic and antipyretic properties in the late nineteenth century. Prior to this, cinchona bark, which was also used to make the anti-malaria drug quinine, had been used to treat fevers. As cinchona became scarcer, people began to look for cheaper synthetic alternatives. In 1893, the white, odourless crystalline compound with a bitter taste that became known as paracetamol was discovered.

How it works?

Paracetamol is used to relieve mild to moderate pain.

Pain reliever: Paracetamol works as a weak prostaglandin inhibitor. It achieves this by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals involved in the transmission of the pain message to the brain. In this regard, paracetamol is different from Aspirin and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in that it blocks the pain message at the brain and not at the source of the pain, as the others do.

Reduces fever: Paracetamol lowers fever by affecting hypothalamus. This part of the brain regulates the temperature of the body. Now, you know why paracetamol features in cough and cold medicines. Specifically, paracetamol has been given to children after they have been given vaccinations in order to prevent them developing post-immunisation pyrexia, or fever.
Who can use it?


• Paracetamol can be used by patients for whom NSAIDs are contraindicated, including those with asthma or peptic ulcers. Because there are few interactions with other medications, paracetamol can be taken by people with sensitivity to aspirin.
• Cholestyramine, which lowers high cholesterol, may reduce the rate at which paracetamol is absorbed by the gut, while Metoclopramide and Domperidone, which are used to relieve the symptoms of stomach disorders, may have the opposite effect and should be used with caution.
• Paracetamol has shown no propensity to be addictive, even in people who use it frequently.
• Long-term or regular use of paracetamol may, however, increase the anticoagulant activity of warfarin or similar anticoagulant medicines so caution may be required in these instances.
• Paracetamol, however, is not useful in reducing inflammation or the swelling of the skin or joints. This is because paracetamol has no clinically useful anti-inflammatory properties.

The body rapidly absorbs Paracetamol, with the soluble form being absorbed even faster than the solid tablets. Paracetamol is primarily metabolised in the liver. Because they have heard that a large dose of paracetamol can damage the liver, some people mistakenly believe that a small dose of paracetamol must therefore be able to cause minor damage to the liver. Taken long-term, in proper therapeutic doses, the liver and other organs should not be harmed by paracetamol.

Side effects from paracetamol are rare but can include:
• Rash
• Blood disorders,
• Hypotension (low blood pressure) – when given by injection into the vein (in hospital)
• Liver and kidney damage – when taken at higher than recommended doses.

Paracetamol, taken at recommended doses, is not known to cause any adverse effects that might interfere with your ability to drive safely.

Positives


• Mild pain reliever
• Safe for children and elderly
• Doesn’t irritate lining of the stomach

Negatives
• In high doses it can cause liver disorders
• Don’t combine paracetamol with alcohol

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