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The Dangers of Overusing Paracetamol: Side Effects You Need to Know About

Category: Health

Date: February 2023
Views: 450

Paracetamol is a widely-used painkiller that can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. While paracetamol is generally considered safe when taken as directed, overusing the drug can have serious side effects. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the dangers of overusing paracetamol and the side effects you need to know about.

How Paracetamol Works

Before we dive into the side effects of overusing paracetamol, let's first discuss how the drug works. Paracetamol works by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain. By blocking these chemicals, paracetamol can reduce pain and fever.

Recommended Dosages

The recommended dosage for paracetamol is generally 1-2 tablets (500-1000mg) every 4-6 hours, up to a maximum of 4g per day for adults. However, it's important to note that the recommended dosage may vary depending on age, weight, and medical history.

Side Effects of Overusing Paracetamol

Overusing paracetamol can have several side effects, including:

  • Liver Damage
  • The liver is responsible for processing paracetamol, and taking too much of the drug can cause liver damage. In severe cases, this can lead to liver failure, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of liver damage include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

  • Kidney Damage
  • Overuse of paracetamol can also cause kidney damage, especially in individuals with pre-existing kidney problems. Symptoms of kidney damage include decreased urine output, swelling in the legs and ankles, and fatigue.

  • Stomach Problems
  • Overuse of paracetamol can also cause stomach problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. In severe cases, it can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding.

  • Increased Risk of Bleeding
  • Paracetamol can increase the risk of bleeding, especially when taken with other blood-thinning medications such as warfarin. Symptoms of bleeding include easy bruising, nosebleeds, and blood in the urine or stool.

  • Allergic Reactions
  • Rarely, overuse of paracetamol can lead to allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

How to Use Paracetamol Safely

To avoid the side effects of overusing paracetamol, it's important to use the drug safely. Here are some tips:

  • Stick to the recommended dosage and do not exceed the maximum daily dose of 4g for adults.
  • Do not take paracetamol with other medications that contain the drug.
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions such as liver or kidney problems, talk to your doctor before taking paracetamol.
  • If you experience any side effects while taking paracetamol, stop taking the drug and seek medical attention immediately.


Paracetamol is a commonly-used painkiller that can be safe when taken as directed. However, overusing the drug can have serious side effects, including liver and kidney damage, stomach problems, and an increased risk of bleeding. To use paracetamol safely, stick to the recommended dosage, avoid drinking alcohol while taking the drug, and seek medical attention if you experience any side effects. If you have any concerns about taking paracetamol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


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