Paracetamol is a pain reliever and fever reducer available over the counter in 500 mg tablets and caplets. Paracetamol is commonly included in cold and flu remedies. In the United States, this drug is known as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Side effects are few and uncommon.
Paracetamol blocks the production of prostaglandins, protective chemicals which cause pain and fever. Unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, paracetamol does not relieve inflammation.
The recommended paracetamol dosage for adults is 500 mg to 1000 mg every 4 to 6 hours, with a maximum of 4000 mg per day. Higher doses can cause dangerous side effects.
Side effects are rare. With recommended doses, some people have reported a skin rash or swollen pancreas, but this was associated with taking paracetamol regularly for a prolonged time frame.
Taking doses higher than the maximum can cause liver damage. Additionally, people who consume large amounts of alcohol may not be able to safely take paracetamol.
Unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol does not cause gastrointestinal effects such as bleeding or ulcers.