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Paracetamol relieves pain and fever in adults and children, and it is the most widely accepted medicine for this purpose. It is used mainly for its pain relief properties either as a medicine prescribed by a doctor or it can be purchased as an over-the-counter medicine both in retail pharmacies or grocers shops.

There are virtually no groups of people who should not take paracetamol, and interactions with other treatments are not a problem.

When taken at the recommended dosage, there are virtually no side-effects.

Its pain relief (analgesic) and fever relief (antipyretic) effects are similar to those of aspirin and it works in a similar, though not identical, way. Unlike aspirin, however, increasing the dose does not result in clinically useful anti-inflammatory activity. Paracetamol is therefore not of value for reducing inflammation in the treatment of chronic rheumatic diseases as are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. Nevertheless, paracetamol does provide useful pain relief and is considered the first line treatment in osteoarthritis.

Paracetamol can be combined with decongestant ingredients to help relieve the symptoms of the common cold, influenza and sinusitis by relieving headache, general aches, nasal congestion and fever.

Paracetamol and its combinations are mainly available as tablets for immediate consumption or for dissolving in water before consumption. It is suitable for all age groups including the very young for whom it may be used following immunisation procedures, and it is available in liquid formulations for young children.