How should I take paracetamol?

Make sure you take paracetamol as directed on the label or leaflet, or as instructed by a health professional.

How much you can take depends on your age, your weight, the type of paracetamol you're taking and how strong it is.

For example:

  • Adults can usually take 1 or 2 500mg tablets every 4 to 6 hours, but shouldn't take more than 4g (8 500mg tablets) in the space of 24 hours.
  • Children under 16 need to take a lower dose, depending on their age or weight – check the packet or leaflet, or ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice. For very young children, paracetamol liquid is given using a measuring spoon or an oral syringe.

Paracetamol should start to work within an hour and the effect usually lasts several hours. Don't take more than the recommended dose if it isn't relieving your symptoms.

Adults can take ibuprofen at the same time if necessary, but this isn't usually recommended for children. For more details, see Can I take paracetamol and ibuprofen together?

Be careful not to use other medications that contain paracetamol as an ingredient (such as some cold and flu remedies) while you're taking paracetamol.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Feb 2018