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Co-codamol

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read
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Co-codamol contains acetaminophen and codeine, which are two different types of painkillers. Tylenol with codeine contains the same active ingredients approved for use in the US but requires a prescription. It can be used for the short-term treatment of pain in a range of conditions, including headache, migraine, toothache, period pain, and muscle aches. It can be prescribed by your doctor if other painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen have been ineffective.

How do I take co-codamol?

Co-codamol is suitable for adults and children aged 12 years and older, and dosing is age-dependent. It comes as tablets, capsules and effervescent tablets (dissolve them in water before swallowing), and you can take 1 to 2 doses every 6 hours, but no more than 4 times a day.

Acetaminophen and codeine can be dangerous if you take too much of them, so make sure you do not take any other acetaminophen or codeine-containing products at the same time as taking co-codamol.

Can I become addicted to co-codamol?

Yes, it’s possible to become addicted to co-codamol if you take it for too long. Codeine belongs to a family of drugs called opioids. Opioids activate receptors in the brain and spinal cord to give us feelings of pain and pleasure. They block pain signals and release large amounts of dopamine, which can give us a good feeling, and we seek to repeat the experience. We also feel unwell without it. This is called dependency. It also carries the risk of tolerance with prolonged use, whereby you need to keep increasing the dose to have the same effect.

Who should avoid co-codamol?

Do not take co-codamol if you have previously had an allergic reaction to acetaminophen, codeine, or another ingredient listed in the medication or an allergic reaction to any other opioid in the past. It is not suitable for children under 12 years. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking co-codamol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have any medical conditions, especially liver disease.

Co-codamol can interact with other medicines, such as warfarin, cholestyramine, sleeping tablets, and other medicines that can cause drowsiness. If you take any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check if they are safe to take alongside co-codamol.

Are there any side effects?

Common side effects can include constipation, drowsiness, headache, feeling sick, vomiting, a dry mouth, and sweating. If you experience drowsiness, it is best to avoid driving and drinking alcohol.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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