How long does it take for paracetamol to work?

IF you are in pain you may be wondering how long it will take for the acetaminophen to work.

The over-the-counter pain relievers work for most common ailments, from headaches to period cramps.

Paracetamol can take up to an hour to work


Paracetamol can take up to an hour to workCredit: Alamy

Once you’ve taken a standard dose, it can take up to an hour to work, says the NHS.

But it can also be just half an hour.

Effects can last for several hours, peaking about two hours after digestion.

A usual dose is one or two 500 mg tablets.

Can you take paracetamol and ibuprofen together?
How much paracetamol is dangerous?

You don’t need to worry about the last time you ate or drank anything when you’re taking acetaminophen.

And it’s safe to drink a small amount of alcohol with the painkiller, the NHS says.

However, some research has shown that what you drink when you swallow a pill could affect how quickly it is digested.

Once a drug has been swallowed, it is broken down by stomach acid before passing through the liver and then into the bloodstream.

The researchers said that “stomach emptying” – the process by which something moves from the stomach to the small intestine to become waste – usually takes about 15 minutes without food.

But common drinks — like orange juice and Coca-Cola — can slow the breakdown of pills, results from laboratory-controlled experiments published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal showed.

Experts say you should only drink a glass of water when taking medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to get the full effect.

If you take acetaminophen throughout the day, doses should be spaced four hours apart.

You should not take more than eight 500 mg tablets (four doses) in any 24 hour period.

The NHS website states: “A paracetamol overdose can cause serious side effects. Don’t be tempted to increase the dose or double the dose if your pain is severe.”

The medicine is available in tablet form that you can swallow with water.

For those who have trouble swallowing whole tablets, acetaminophen is also available in syrup form or as a dissolvable tablet.

It is important to read the guidelines on the packaging and to consult your GP about any medications you are taking. How long does it take for paracetamol to work?

Sarah Y. Kim

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