Monday, April 15, 2024

University of The Gambia Medical Students Association: Paracetamol

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Pain is the most important symptom, without pain most people would not go to the hospital to see Doctors. No wonder many people turn to Paracetamol/Paracetamol-containing products, like relief tablets when they feel pain or headache. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most widely used over-the-counter drugs in The Gambia and worldwide at large. Indeed, paracetamol is a very powerful tablet capable of relieving pain within minutes/hours after intake. However, because of its rapid pain-relieving property many people abuse the drug. In this short article, we take a look at how Paracetamol works, how it should be properly used and what are the possible consequences when it is abused.

Paracetamol and How it Works

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Paracetamol is used to relieve mild or moderate pain by blocking the release of certain chemicals in your brain that signal the sensation of pain. However, it doesn’t treat the cause of the pain.

Side Effects of Paracetamol

Paracetamol has side effects, but most people don’t experience them. In rare cases, people have had allergic reactions to it. The most concerning side effect, though, is severe liver damage. It usually only happens when you overuse paracetamol. Your liver processes paracetamol and converts it into a different substance. If you take large amounts of paracetamol, your liver produces more of that substance. And when there is too much of it, that substance can damage your liver. However, if you take paracetamol at the recommended dosage, liver damage from the drug is not likely.

How to Prevent Paracetamol Overuse

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Paracetamol overuse is more common than you think. That’s because paracetamol is a common ingredient in many different over-the-counter drugs. Keep track of how much paracetamol you take in one day. This can decrease your risk of overuse.

Your paracetamol limit may also be affected by your age or certain lifestyle habits. Severe liver damage is more likely to occur in:

•Adults who take more than 6 tablets in a 24-hour period
•Children who take more than five doses in a 24-hour period
•People who already have liver disease, take other medications that can damage the liver, or drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day, even when they take acetaminophen at the recommended dosage.

Before giving paracetamol to your child, check the package label for instructions. Verify the dosage. The dosage for children is usually in a chart that is based on age and weight. Don’t give paracetamol to a child if the dosage is unclear to you. If your child is younger than 2 years, talk to a doctor before giving them paracetamol. And never give your child paracetamol that is clearly marked for use only in adults.

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In conclusion, it’s important to note that most people tolerate this drug well, but we must observe caution to avoid the side effects that may arise from abusing paracetamol, the most dreadful of which is damage to your liver.
Reference: Health Line

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Health committee 2023
Cherno A. Jallow

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