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What is Co-Codamol? It is a painkiller consisting of a mixture of codeine phosphate and paracetamol. It is widely believed by scientists globally, that taking codeine phosphate and paracetamol together makes a more effective pain killer. This is particularly useful when a single painkiller is not sufficient for pain relief on its own. There are various Co-Codamol strengths which will be suitable for different types and severities of the condition being treated.

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NOTE: the information on this website is not intended to replace advice from a doctor or qualified medical expert.

What is Co-Codamol

The medication has been approved by the Medications and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and has a legal status of POM (prescription only medication). Co-Codamol 8 / 500 mg is the lowest dose available and can be bought over the counter from your local chemist. Co-Codamol 15 / 500 mg or any doses stronger than this are available with a prescription If you are struggling to get a prescription from your doctor however, you can buy Co-Codamol online from our internet pharmacy.

What is Co-Codamol Used for Treating?

Co-Codamol is a compound opioid based analgesic medication used to treat mild to moderate pain when other over the counter painkillers have not been sufficient as pain relief on their own. It can be used to treat acute pain, including after surgery or injury. Other types of acute pain include migraines or muscular aches and pains, with people most commonly using Co-Codamol for toothache or other dental pain. It can also be used for chronic conditions where pain is a major symptom, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. It is also occasionally used as a second-line treatment option for cancer induced pain, however, results from clinical trials regarding the efficacy is mixed. Living with chronic pain can have severe consequences and negatively impact on your ability to carry out your daily activities. As we mentioned before, the mixture of codeine and paracetamol makes this medication more effective than taking either on their own or other over the counter painkillers, increasing its pain relieving properties. This can help you manage your symptoms and allow you to get on with your life, and take control again.

How Do Co-Codamol Tablets Work?

Co-Codamol have the 2 active ingredients as we said before, which are paracetamol and codeine phosphate. Codeine phosphate is an opioid analgesic and is the more potent of the two. It targets the neuronal opioid receptors within the central nervous system, which belong to a complex family of G protein-coupled receptors. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and the nerves from there extend to the peripheral nervous system which is found throughout the rest of the body. Nerve cells are call neurons and in between each cell is a miniscule gap called a synapse, and this is where most neuronal receptors are found. Neurons primarily use electrical signals, called action potentials, to transmit information and the can be both regulated by, stimulate, and inhibit neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which regulate activity in the brain, and they can either be excitatory (increase electrical activity) or inhibitory (decrease electrical activity). This level of activity can be related to a huge variety of functions, including emotion regulation, alertness, sedation, and pain management, to name a few. The action potentials associated with pain are transmitted by nociceptors, and the perception of pain is called nociception. Noxious action potentials travel along nerves called C fibres, and when they reach the brain, this is when you will experience nociception. When codeine is ingested, it is metabolised into morphine and binds to the opioid receptors. These receptors react in the same way whether they are stimulated by natural opioids such as endorphins, or synthesised opioids such as medication. After the medication binds to the receptors, this increases your pain threshold, therefore reducing the perception of pain, by decreasing the rate of noxious action potentials along the C fibres.

How Long Do Co-Codamol Tablets Last?

Firstly, how long does Co-Codamol take to work? The tablets are absorbed rapidly into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and they have a bioavailability of over 90%. This means that only up to 10% of the medication is lost through firs pass metabolism when it passes from the GI tract to the neuronal receptors via the cardiovascular system. The level of absorption and bioavailability is not affected whether you take the medication with food or on an empty stomach. It takes about half an hour before you will start to feel the effects of the medication and it will reach peak plasma concentration after about 1 hour. This will vary slightly from person to person depending on factors such as your metabolism, and height and weight. Co-Codamol has a duration of action of 4 to 6 hours, and this is the length of time you will benefit from its pain-relieving properties, despite its shorter elimination half-life time of 3 hours. The elimination half life is the amount of time it takes for half of the medication to be metabolised and eliminated from the body, so it will be detected in your system for at least double this amount of time.

Co-Codamol Dosage for Pain Relief

The exact Co-Codamol dosage will vary depending on what condition it is being used to treat as well as the severity of the condition. How long you need to take it for pay also play a role in the dosage guidance. For mild pain you can get Co-Codamol over the counter which, as we mentioned earlier, contains the lowest dose available. For moderate pain Co-Codamol 30 / 500 mg is the most commonly prescribed dose. For acute pain you may want to take 1 to 2 tablets when you feel your pain is unmanageable without medication, whereas for chronic conditions you will usually need to take tablets throughout the day. Most people take 1 to 2 tablets in the morning and re-dose throughout the day, up to a maximum of 8 tablets per day. If you are taking multiple doses, then you should ensure that you space your doses out evenly throughout the day so that too much doesn't enter your system at on e as this could be dangerous. Too much paracetamol can harm your liver and too much codeine can cause respiratory problems, so spacing the doses is important. Additionally, Co-Codamol 15 / 500 mg may be an appropriate starting dose if you are suffering from a chronic condition, as opioid based medications have habit forming properties and your tolerance will increase the longer you take them. If your tolerance increases then you will not get the same benefits from the medication or you will have to increase your dose, which is why a lower starting dose is recommended to begin with.

Co-Codamol Side Effects

Before you buy Co-Codamol it is important to be aware of any adverse effects. Like with all medications, Co-Codamol has the potential to cause side effects, and these are more likely to be caused by the codeine as opposed to the paracetamol in the medication. Most side effects however are mild for the majority of people, if they experience them at all. Some of the more common Co-Codamol side effects to be aware of include the following:

  • Feeling sick
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Feeling drowsy
  • A dry mouth
  • Constipation

If you experience any of the above side effects it does not mean that you have to stop taking the medication, unless they are bothering you too much or they do not go away on their own after a short period of time. Most of the more common side effects such as a dry mouth and feeling dizzy can be avoided by staying well hydrated. If you feel nauseous then you could take an antihistamine or ask your GP for an anti-emetic.

This is very uncommon, but it is important to be aware that some people experience serious side effects, however these affect less that 1% of people who take the medication. Some of the more serious Co-Codamol side effects to be aware of include the following:

  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Changes to your vision
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash

If you experience any of the above, you should stop taking the medication and seek medical attention. Again, this is very rare, but some people experience an allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is considered a medical emergency and if you experience any of the following you should call 999 or go to A&E straight away:

  • Swelling of the lips and face
  • Rash or blotchy skin on the neck and face
  • Closing of the airways
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing

It is important to note that not everyone will get a rash or blotchy skin, so if you have the other symptoms, you should still seek emergency treatment.

Who Should Avoid Co-Codamol?

Co-Codamol is safe for the vast majority of people over the age of 18, however there are certain groups who should avoid it. Seek advice from a medical professional before taking Co-Codamol if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients before
  • You have been treated for addiction in the past
  • You have a severe mental health condition
  • You have severe liver or kidney problems
  • You have a breathing problem such as obstructive sleep apnoea
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding

Before you buy Co-Codamol it is also important to be aware of any contraindications. You should not take it in conjunction with other opioid based medications or benzodiazepines as this can cause dangerous breathing problems. You should not take Co-Codamol and paracetamol either as the medication already contains a full dose of paracetamol, and too much of it can harm your liver. Co-Codamol and ibuprofen are fine to take together however, if you need stronger pain relief. It is also important to note that Co-Codamol and alcohol do not mix well, and you should avoid drinking while taking it as this could be dangerous.

More About Co-Codamol for Pain Relief

Co-Codamol 30 / 500 mg is an effective medication for the management of mild to moderate pain. Ideally, it should be used as a short-term treatment option as your tolerance will increase the longer you take it. Additionally, as we mentioned before, Co-Codamol has habit forming properties and can cause physical dependence. This means that you should take it for less than 3 days per week and space the days out evenly. You should also take it for less than 2 weeks, if possible, for example if you are suffering from acute pain. If you have taken it for longer than this and for more than 3 days per week, you may need to gradually taper off the medication so as to avoid withdrawals. Co-Codamol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, chills, aches and pains, and insomnia. It is not always possible to take it on a short-term basis, however. People with chronic conditions such as arthritis may need to take it long term, and if this is the case you should gradually increase your dose so that it stays as effective as possible.

Want to Buy Co-Codamol?

You can either get a prescription from your GP or buy Co-Codamol online if you are struggling to get a prescription. We understand that it is not always possible to get an appointment with your GP due to a number of factors such as a lack of time or feeling embarrassed about seeking help. We believe that you should be able to get strong painkillers that work for you. Living with pain can be debilitating and severely impact an individual's quality of life. That is why we have made it possible to buy Co-Codamol 30 / 500 mg from our online pharmacy. Visit for our full range of products. We ship all of our orders quickly and in plain packaging for discretion. If you have any questions you can get in touch with our friendly and dedicated team via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Last Reviewed: 10th July 2024
Next Review Due: August 2025

Jig – Jul 22, 2023
Helpful service and offering confidence and good pain relief to all
Garin – Jan 31, 2022
Très bon service et rapide de plus.
Gemma – Dec 30, 2021
Do you know when these will be back in stock

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