Published: 23rd August, 2019 in: Health Advice
Co-codamol is an extremely common medicine prescribed for pain relief, which can be purchased from many over the counter pharmacies. It is available in three different strengths, with the lowest strength available to you in pharmacies like Weldricks Pharmacy, while the two higher strengths are only available when prescribed to you.
However, before you take any medication it’s a good idea to understand what it is, what it’s used for and what the side effects are. In this article we’ll set out to answer frequently asked questions about co-codamol so that you can understand what the drug does and how to use it safely.
What is co-codamol?
Co-codamol is a mixture of 2 different painkillers - paracetamol and codeine. It is typically a stronger painkiller than aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol alone, and is often used when those types of painkillers haven’t worked to treat the source of pain. It is also known by many different brand names, so it’s important to check with your pharmacist about any different brands before you begin taking your co-codamol tablets.
What is co-codamol used for?
Co-codamol is often used to treat your average aches and pains including muscular pains, migraines, toothaches, and headaches too. The medicine comes as capsules or tablets, which should be swallowed whole with a drink of water. Co-codamol can be taken with or without food.
Adults over the age of 18 should take 2 co-codamol tablets of any strength up to 4 times in 24 hours. Always leave at least 4 hours between each dose and the maximum dose is 8 co-codamol tablets. Taking too much co-codamol can be very dangerous, so it’s important to leave a gap between your doses and to increase doses even if you’re in severe pain.
Co-codamol is not generally recommended to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
What does co-codamol do?
Because co-codamol is a mixture of two different ingredients which provide pain relief, it works in 2 different ways to combat your pain.
Paracetamol works by blocking chemical messengers in the brain that tell us when we have pain. It also works by reducing fever, affecting the chemical messengers in the area of the brain which regulates body temperature.
Codeine affects pain receptors in the central nervous system and the brain in order to block pain signals to the rest of the body.
What are the side effects of co-codamol?
Taking too much co-codamol can be incredibly damaging to the body, because the paracetamol ingredient can cause liver damage when taken in too high a quantity. The codeine element in co-codamol can also become addictive when taken consistently for too long.
Common side effects of taking co-codamol include constipation, feeling sleepy, headaches or feeling sick/vomiting. Codeine blocks pain receptors in the central nervous system, which can induce slow and shallow breathing; this could also slow down your digestion, which is why codeine can cause constipation as a common side effect.
More serious side effects include a skin rash, difficulty urinating, changes in eyesight and dizziness. If you experience any of the above serious side effects then contact your doctor immediately.
Co-codamol vs co-dydramol
Co-dydramol is a slightly different pain killer, combining paracetamol and dihydrocodeine. Co-dydramol tablets are commonly used for the relief of mild to moderate pain in musculoskeletal conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, sprains, sciatica and strains etc.). Co-codamol is often prescribed for typical muscular aches and pains which can be experienced by many, whereas co-dydramol tends to be used for more specific conditions, like the aforementioned musculoskeletal conditions. While both tablets are used for mild to moderate pain, it is co-codamol which is the more common of the two for its more generic properties.
As with all medicinal products, please read the leaflet before taking co-codamol or speak to your doctor or pharmacist if there is anything you are unsure about. You can purchase your co-codamol tablets or capsules from Weldricks Pharmacy, and should start to feel better quickly. If you’re still suffering from pain after a few days then get in touch with your doctor to assess the source of the problem. If you think a higher dose of co-codamol is needed to ease your pain, speak to your GP who may be able to prescribe you this.