Paracetamol-the most used painkiller

Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is a pain killer/ pain reliever also taken to reduce fever. Paracetamol is the most common and popular analgesic/antipyretic used among children and adults for moderate pain states. Despite the popularity of paracetamol the mechanism of action of this medicine on fever and pain is still not known or is debated.

There is still no mechanism that completely explains this, the assumption is made that paracetamol acts through the cyclooxygenase pathway (COX). Paracetamol can be used to treat various conditions like headache, cold, fever, etc.

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Acetaminophen was first used clinically in 1893 by Von Mering, the commercial use of this medicine was until 1950 in the US.

Generic name- Paracetamol

Alternate name- Acetaminophen


Paracetamol can be taken available in various ways

  • Orally by Tablets, capsules
  • Liquid
  • Soluble tablets
  • Injections

It is generally taken as an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer). One can also take paracetamol for Nausea, Vomiting, Insomnia, Headache, Itching, etc. 


Using any kind of medication if taken more than it is recommended can have serious health risks, one should always consult a professional physician before taking any kind of medicine on their own

It should not be taken over any other conditions than a cough, cold, body aches, etc. the maximum amount of Acetaminophen for adults is 1g that is 1000mg per dose, one can take 4g (4000mg) per day. An overdose of paracetamol can cause serious health effects, as it could cause direct damage to the liver.

If one has a history of alcoholism or drinking habits and he/she drinks more than three alcoholic beverages per day or if he/she had alcohol liver disease then it is recommended to not take paracetamol and consult your doctor before taking any medication. Alcohol may increase the risk of liver damage, avoid taking paracetamol with alcohol.

Overdosing of paracetamol can show side effects like sweating, loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, dark urine, etc. seek emergency medical attention if in case any of the symptoms mentioned above are shown.


The mechanism of this drug at the molecular level is still unclear. There is the various explanation that is put forward, one of which is through inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). It has a central analgesic effect which is mediated through the activation of descending serotonergic pathways.


Image source: Parker, W., Hornik, C. D., Bilbo, S., Holzknecht, Z. E., Gentry, L., Rao, R., … & Nevison, C. D. (2017). The role of oxidative stress, inflammation and acetaminophen exposure from birth to early childhood in the induction of autism. Journal of International Medical Research, 45(2), 407-438.


Acetaminophen is a well-tolerated drug with few or no side effects. It very rarely causes side effect if you take it at the right dosage and after consultation, the side effect is as follows:

  • Skin allergic reactions like rashes and swelling
  • Low blood pressure, fast heartbeat
  • Low fever, nausea, stomach pain, etc.
  • Liver and kidney damage if one takes an overdose of paracetamol can be a severe case.

For more drugs, keep reading at MBD

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