Side Effects of Kapake

Image by, courtesy of Or Hiltch

Kapake is one of several trade names of the drug co-codamol, which is made up of two separate compounds, paracetamol (better known in the United States as acetaminophen) and codeine phosphate. It is generally used to treat mild to moderate pain when administration of just paracetamol is ineffective.

Both paracetamol and codeine phosphate have side effects, and codeine phosphate is an opioid, meaning it is synthesised from the narcotic opium, and has a host of side effects.

Side Effects of Codeine Phosphate

Codeine phosphate is an opioid and has numerous side effects associated with its opioid properties. The most mild of these include dizziness or a feeling of lightheadedness, along with drowsiness. If these are experienced, eating small amounts of simple food often can increase energy levels. If feeling drowsy, rest and avoiding operation of vehicles or machinery is a good idea. Alcohol generally exacerbates the effects of opioids. Other side effects include dry mouth, which can be treated with fluids and chewing gum, and a mild skin rash. Constipation may also occur, which can be treated with a diet high in fibre and by drinking enough water daily.

Codeine Addiction

Like all opioids, codeine phosphate carries a risk of addiction. As a person takes codeine, the body may build up a resistance, requiring increasingly large doses for similar effects. In addition, it can also create a feeling of euphoria, along with relieving the pain it was prescribed to treat. This eventually leads to a codeine addiction, which can have disastrous effects, up to and including death. Withdrawal can also have its own nasty side effects, including nausea, sweating, vomiting, muscle and bone pain, headaches and a chronically runny nose.

Side Effects of Paracetamol

Paracetamol is an extremely common over-the-counter medication used as a pain-reliever, working by reducing the production of chemicals called prostaglandins in the body, which in turn leads to mild pain suppression and reduced fever. Minor side effects of paracetamol use do occur such as mild stomach pain and, in some cases (usually when combined with alcohol), bleeding in the stomach. Regular use for an adult rarely leads to any noticeable side effects if the recommended dose is taken; however, prolonged use or overdose can cause adverse effects on the liver.

Paracetamol and the Liver

Paracetamol is slightly liver toxic, so long-term use at recommended dosages can lead to liver toxicity and liver failure. If the liver is otherwise healthy prior to paracetamol use, there is very little risk of liver toxicity developing. It is when the liver is already in poor condition, or if paracetamol is taken in concert with alcohol, that liver damage may occur. If far too much paracetamol is taken in a single dose, it can accumulate in the liver and cause liver toxicity and, in some extreme cases, complete liver failure.

Paracetamol and Children

Paracetamol use in children under a year in age has been linked to several conditions later in life, including severe asthma, a chronically runny nose, red, itchy eyes and eczema. A study performed at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found that there was a 46 per cent increased risk of developing asthma in children ages 6 to 7 years old if they had taken paracetamol in the first year if life. Similar numbers were reported for the eczema and chronic redness of the eyes and runny nose. In addition, 22 per cent of severe childhood asthma was linked to paracetamol use in the first year of life, and 38 per cent of severe childhood asthma was linked to use of the drug later in childhood.