Painkillers: How many of this common medication is safe to take, according to doctors?

It is easier than you think to overdose on this common painkiller found in most people’s medicine cabinets.

Paracetamol risks
© Towfiqu barbhuiya / UNSPLASH
Paracetamol risks

Being a common painkiller which could be found in most medicine cabinets, there is a tendency to take more than the necessary dose. However, just like any other medication, taking too much paracetamol could have adverse side effects. Well, there is a specific number that is safe to take for pain relief.

Discover our latest podcast

Safe number to take

Paracetamol is a common painkiller used to treat aches and pain. It can also be used to reduce a high temperature, according to theNHS. It is also a good remedy for other ailments such as headaches, period cramps and stomach aches. The health regulator recommends that the maximum dose adults can take is eight 500mg tablets in 24 hours.

The usual dose for adults is one or two 500mg tablets up to 4 times in 24 hours. Always leave at least 4 hours between doses.

It takes paracetamol more than one hour to work and is generally safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It is also safe to take over a long period of time - as long as you don't take more than the recommended dosage, according to The Sun.

Getty/ krisanapong detraphiphat

Risks involved

It's safe to take paracetamol with other types of painkiller that don't contain paracetamol, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and codeine. The NHS also cautions that taking paracetamol with other medicines that have paracetamol as active ingredients could trigger an overdose.

You should not be tempted to increase the dose or to take a double dose if your pain is very bad. Taking one or two extra tablets by accident is unlikely to be harmful, as long as you do not take more than eight tablets in 24 hours. According to Patient.Info:

It can lead to liver failure in a number of days, despite using medication to protect the liver. Liver failure can be fatal

Read more:

These 3 medications cause the highest deaths in the UK, check whether you have them at home

If you are taking thyroid medication, coffee could have this unexpected effect on your health

Heartbroken woman warns about dangers of prescription medication: 'I couldn’t believe it was happening’

Sources used:


The Sun: DRUG ALERT: How many paracetamol are dangerous?


Beware of these dangerous side effects of taking common painkillers Beware of these dangerous side effects of taking common painkillers