Newest Review: ... longer lasting and stronger pain relief than the paracetamol alone. Now, I'm a big fan of paracetamol, I think a lot of people underestima... more
The opiate of the masses
Member Name: StampedingTurtes
Advantages: Excellent for mild to moderate pain, cheap if you buy generic
Disadvantages: Can cause addiction, some people can experience side effects
I also get occasional migraines so I usually have co-codamol tablets in the house and do know that they agree with me and work well for me.
~~~ Introduction ~~~
You can buy Co-Codamol over the counter in any pharmacy in the 8/500 strength. The stronger, 30/500's are only available on prescription. However, you can get the 8/500 on prescription too if you have certain chronic conditions which require pain relief.
Different pharmacies use different suppliers for their over the counter co-codamol and so the packaging can vary. They are always sold in boxes of 32 tablets or caplets which can be swallowed with water. There are also boxes of 32 soluble tablets available.
The name co-codamol is used to show that it is a compound of codeine phosphate and paracetamol. Some pharmacies, like Boots, sell their own brand paracetamol and codeine tablets which are exactly the same as co-codamol just without the name. The over the counter co-codamol contains 8mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol.
There are other brand name co-codamol products such as Solpadine. However, these are generally much more expensive. A box of co-codamol tablets usually costs about £1.80 whereas a box of Solpadine can cost about £2.99 for the exact same tablet compound! As with many forms of medication, you pay a lot for a brand name. In some cases, the brand name item IS better quality, but for simple products like paracetamol, codeine and cold and flu remedies, it is always worth buying the generic product as is has all of the same ingredients and costs much less.
~~~ The ingredients and dosage information ~~~
Co-Codamol 8/500's are a good analgesic for mild to moderate pain and work well for things like headaches, period pain, broken bones, back pain etc. They contain two active ingredients which I have already mentioned - 8mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol.
Codeine is an opiate (it comes from opium i.e. from the poppy), I was surprised when I first found this out, but on discovering the number of people who are clearly addicted to co-codamol tablets it all began to make sense! Codeine is used predominantly for pain relief, but can also have a very weak effect as a muscle relaxant. This is the strongest ingredient in co-codamol.
Paracetamol is a general analgesic and is used for mild pain and is effective in bringing down a fever. The 500mg of paracetamol in co-codamol tablets is the same dose as in normal over the counter paracetamol alone. So what makes co-codamol so much more effective is the combination of the mild pain killing properties of paracetamol, with the stronger codeine.
Co-codamol tablets are recommended for mild to moderate pain and no more than eight should be taken in a 24 hour period. It is usually advised to take no more than two every four hours. You can also take one every two hours or one every four hours depending upon the level of the pain.
You should not take Co-codamol unless you need them. If normal paracetamol will get rid of the pain, you should use that instead as codeine can give some side effects.
~~~ Side Effects ~~~
Some people can suffer from side effects from taking codeine, most of these are rare and if experienced, you should seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
Common side effects from Co-Codamol include a feeling of euphoria or calmness (this is the opiate at work and can cause addiction), nausea, constipation, dry mouth.
Less common side effects include drowsiness, depression and itching, strangely enough!
I have to admit that I have experienced the feeling of calm, euphoria, nausea and drowsiness at various times taking these tablets. One of the worst side effects I have experienced was over the Christmas period when I was ill and taking my full quota of eight tablets per day to ward of the aching in all of my limbs. I suddenly got this horrible crushing headache. As someone who gets migraines, I can handle a headache, but this was a horrible, pulsating, ache I had never experienced. The doctor on the ward described this as a codeine headache. Apparently you can experience headaches if you take codeine products regularly. At the time I remember thinking how ironic it was that a medication to help with pain can actually give you a side effect of pain!
Another serious side effect can be addiction. It seems that if you take co-codamol regularly and for a long period of time, you can become addicted. I think this is because of the opiate codeine (if any of you watch House you will know how addictive opiates can be!).
~~~ My Experience ~~~
Being very, very ill, I was first prescribed the stronger compound of 30/500. However, I was only on these for a week and then able to take the coo-codamol 8/500's which is what this review is based upon.
I found that these tablets were quite effective in minimising the often severe pain which I was in. The virus I had caused my whole body to be in agony, with a very high temperature and a resting heart rate of 170. The co-codamol tablets did help to calm some of the pain and the mild euphoria eventually helped to calm me and let me get some sleep. This helped to lower my heart rate slightly.
I take co-codamol for migraines too. I usually find that two tablets at the start and two four hours later is enough to maintain some level of sanity during the agony of a migraine. They can, in some cases, take the pain away completely which is wonderful! Other times they just dull it enough to let me sleep through the worst of it.
When I take two co-codamol with a migraine, I usually go to bed. After about 30 minutes, you feel yourself relaxing and becoming drowsy. This is the codeine kicking in. It's great when you're ill, but it is also a reminder that even although these can be bought without prescription, they are still a powerful drug!
If I have a headache or a pulled muscle or something equally trivial, I find the one co-codamol tablet and one paracetamol is usually enough. I have also found co-codamol to be very effective for calming down period pain and would recommend them for this.
I think co-codamol are highly effective. The true test was being very ill and in great pain - these tablets helped where normal paracetamol did nothing, they are clearly strong enough for moderate pain and can seem to work wonders for headaches, period pain, migraines and other minor complaints. I would recommend these tablets if you find that paracetamol are not quite taking the edge off of the pain.
It is usually advised that you do not take co-codamol for more than three days without speaking to a doctor. When buying them over the counter they are purely a short term treatment for a headache or whatever. If you have a long term condition you should speak to a doctor who will be able to advise you about other methods of pain relief which may be more suitable.
Summary: Great pain killer for migraines, headache, period pain, back pain and other moderate pain.