Active Ingredients

Paracetamol – Effect, Application & Risks


Paracetamol is a drug that is primarily used for mild to moderate pain , cold symptoms and to reduce fever . Paracetamol is used both as a single preparation and in combination with other drugs.

What is paracetamol?

The pain and fever-reducing drug paracetamol was introduced in 1950 and is one of the most common and indispensable painkillers . Paracetamol is considered to be highly effective and can be purchased in Germany as a single preparation without a prescription in pharmacies. Only combination preparations that contain codeine or acetylsalicylic acid, for example, require a prescription. The analgesic is classified as an essential drug by the World Health Organization, and the active ingredient paracetamol has been on the WHO list since 1977.

Medicinal effect & application

Paracetamol is used medically for various clinical pictures. The active ingredient is one of the first drugs of choice for a wide variety of pain complaints, such as headaches , body aches, menstrual pain , toothache , but also sunburn and can also be used to a certain extent for migraines . However, for migraines, a combination with acetylsalicylic acid and caffeine is recommended, as the effectiveness is increased by the interaction.

For moderate to severe pain, a combination of codeine and tramadol is recommended. Paracetamol is also used in the treatment of various colds . Paracetamol is a component of many flu medicines, cough relievers and fever-reducing medicines. Paracetamol should not be taken during pregnancy , as it is suspected that taking it during pregnancy is associated with the child developing asthma later on.

However, breastfeeding in combination with paracetamol is considered harmless. Paracetamol is usually taken orally, but it can also be administered rectally and intravenously. In adults, paracetamol is dosed according to body weight. About 10-15 mg are taken orally as a single dose per kg of body weight. Up to four single doses of paracetamol may be taken per day.


Paracetamol should never be combined with alcohol . Just like the combined intake of certain sleeping pills and antiepileptics , the simultaneous intake of alcohol leads to the breakdown of paracetamol into a toxic metabolite being increased. Even small doses of paracetamol can cause serious liver damage.

If the broad-spectrum antibiotic chloramphenicol is administered at the same time, paracetamol delays the breakdown of the antibiotic and thus makes its active substance more toxic. AIDS patients taking the drug zidovudine should use paracetamol only after consulting a doctor, as paracetamol can increase certain side effects of the drug.

In the main, however, paracetamol is considered a drug that rarely affects other active ingredients negatively. As with any other drug, paracetamol should be consulted with a doctor or pharmacist if in doubt.

Risks & side effects

Paracetamol is considered to be a very well-tolerated drug that rarely causes side effects, as long as it is taken as intended. Drug-induced headaches are relatively common. The regular intake of paracetamol leads to severe headache attacks when it is suddenly stopped, this is often the case with migraine patients who cannot be adjusted to triptans.

Rare and very rare side effects are also liver enzymes, serious changes in the blood count, allergic reactions such as hives and spasms in the respiratory muscles.

Furthermore, paracetamol is suspected of increasing the risk of asthma and conjunctivitis when used frequently in childhood . Frequent skin inflammation and inflammation of the nasal mucosa are also associated with taking paracetamol in childhood.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.