Co-codamol 30/500 mg Tablets for adults
People who use Co-codamol 30/500 mg Tablets, widely used for pain relief, are today being asked to check the batch number on the labels of packs to ensure they are not one of 4,464 packs which are being recalled due to safety concerns. This advice follows a Class 1 National Patient Safety Alert that has been issued.
On this page
About co-codamol for adults
Who can and cannot take co-codamol
How and when to take co-codamol
Taking co-codamol with other painkillers
How to cope with side effects of co-codamol
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Cautions with other medicines
Common questions about co-codamol
1. About co-codamol for adults
Co-codamol is a mixture of 2 different painkillers – paracetamol and codeine. It’s used to treat aches and pains including headaches, muscular pain, migraines and toothache.
It may help to take co-codamol if everyday painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol on their own, have not worked.
This medicine comes as tablets and capsules.
For children under 16 years of age, read our information on co-codamol for children.
2. Key facts
Co-codamol tablets and capsules come in 3 strengths. You can buy the lowest strength co-codamol from pharmacies but the higher strengths are only available on prescription.
The most common side effects of co-codamol are constipation and feeling sick (nausea) or sleepy.
Taking too much co-codamol can be harmful. Do not be tempted to increase the dose or take a double dose if your pain is very bad.
It’s possible to become addicted to the codeine in co-codamol, but your doctor will explain how to reduce the risks of becoming addicted.
If you need to take co-codamol for more than a few weeks, your treatment plan may include details of how and when to stop taking this medicine.
3. Who can and cannot take co-codamol
Adults and children aged 12 years or over can take co-codamol. However, it is only recommended for under-18s if other painkillers have not worked.
Co-codamol is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting the medicine if you:
have lung problems or breathing difficulties
have a head injury
have adrenal gland problems
have a condition that causes fits or seizures
regularly drink more than the maximum recommended amount of alcohol (14 units a week)
are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or are breastfeeding
have liver problems – you may need to take a lower dose
are under 18 years old and have had your tonsils or adenoids removed because of a sleep problem called obstructive sleep apnoea
4. How and when to take co-codamol
It’s important to take co-codamol as your doctor has asked you to. This is particularly important because co-codamol can be addictive.
Co-codamol comes as tablets and capsules. Swallow them whole with a drink of water.
Co-codamol also comes as soluble tablets that dissolve in water to make a drink.
You can take co-codamol with or without food.
Different co-codamol strengths
Co-codamol tablets and capsules come in 3 different strengths.
They contain 8mg, 15mg or 30mg of codeine.
All 3 strengths contain 500mg of paracetamol – the same as in a standard paracetamol tablet or capsule.
The strength of co-codamol appears as 2 numbers on the packet. For example, 8/500 means each tablet or capsule contains 8mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol.
You can buy the lowest strength of co-codamol (8/500) without a prescription but only from a pharmacy. The higher strengths (15/500 and 30/500) are only available on prescription from a doctor.
Adults and young people aged 16 years and older can take 1 or 2 tablets (of any strength) up to 4 times in 24 hours. Always leave at least 4 to 6 hours between doses. The maximum dose is 8 co-codamol tablets in 24 hours.
It’s important to leave a gap between doses of co-codamol. Taking too much co-codamol can be very dangerous. That’s because the paracetamol in it can cause liver damage.
Do not increase the dose of co-codamol or take a double dose even if your pain is very bad.
The maximum dose of co-codamol for adults and young people aged 16 years and over is 8 tablets in 24 hours.
How long to take it for
If your doctor has prescribed co-codamol for you, take it as you’ve been advised.
If you’ve bought co-codamol from a pharmacy, do not use it for more than 3 days. If you still have pain, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
If you have been taking co-codamol for more than a few weeks do not stop taking it without speaking to your doctor first.
What if I take too much?
If you take 1 or 2 extra tablets of co-codamol by accident on a single occasion, it’s unlikely to be harmful. If this happens, wait at least 24 hours before you take any more.
Immediate action required:Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
you take too much co-codamol and are finding it difficult to breathe
Urgent advice:Contact 111 for advice now if:
you take more than 2 extra tablets of co-codamol
you take more than 8 tablets of co-codamol in 24 hours
Go to 111.co.uk or call 111
If you need to go to hospital, take the co-codamol packet or leaflet inside it plus any remaining medicine with you.
5. Taking co-codamol with other painkillers
It’s safe to take co-codamol with ibuprofen and aspirin.
Do not take co-codamol with paracetamol, or other medicines that contain paracetamol. Co-codamol already contains paracetamol so you could be at risk of paracetamol overdose.
Medicines that have paracetamol in them include painkillers like Tramacet and co-dydramol, migraine remedies, and some cough and cold remedies (Lemsip and Night Nurse).
Before taking co-codamol with any other medicines, check the label to see whether they contain paracetamol.
6. Side effects
Like all medicines, co-codamol can cause side effects although not everyone gets them. Many people have no side effects or only minor ones.
You’re more likely to have side effects if you take the higher strengths of co-codamol.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Tell your doctor if the side effects bother you or do not go away:
feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 100 people.
Tell a doctor straight away if you have:
a skin rash
changes in your eyesight
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to co-codamol.
Immediate action required:Call 999 or go to A&E if:
you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
you get tightness in the chest or throat
you have trouble breathing or talking
your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of co-codamol. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
7. How to cope with side effects of co-codamol
What to do about:
constipation – eat more high-fibre foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and cereals. Try to drink several glasses of water or another non-alcoholic liquid each day. If you can, it may also help to do some gentle exercise.
feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting) – take co-codamol with or just after a meal or snack. Have small, frequent sips of water if you’re being sick. Feelings of sickness should normally wear off after a few days. Talk to your doctor about taking an anti-sickness medicine if it carries on for longer.
feeling sleepy or tired – do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery if you’re feeling this way. Do not drink any alcohol as this will make you feel more tired.
headaches – make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Talk to your doctor if the headaches last longer than a week or are severe.
8. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Co-codamol and pregnancy
While co-codamol can be taken in pregnancy, other painkillers may be more suitable.
Co-codamol contains paracetamol and codeine. Paracetamol is safe to take in pregnancy, however codeine can affect your baby, particularly towards the end of pregnancy.
Your baby may get used to having codeine and may have withdrawal symptoms when they’re born. There is a slightly higher risk of your baby having breathing problems. These are usually temporary, but your baby may need extra monitoring.
For these reasons, co-codamol is not generally recommended. However, if you have pain that requires stronger pain relief than paracetamol, talk to your doctor. They might prescribe co-codamol if they think this is the best option for you.
Co-codamol and breastfeeding
It’s not recommended to take co-codamol while breastfeeding.
Small amounts of the codeine in co-codamol get into breast milk and can cause breathing problems in your baby.
However, paracetamol alone is safe to take while breastfeeding.
If you are taking co-codamol and want to breastfeed, discuss this with your doctor first. They can advise you on other pain relief options.
Non-urgent advice:Tell your doctor if you’re:
trying to get pregnant
For more information about how codeine can affect you and your baby during pregnancy see the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
9. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines affect the way co-codamol works. Equally co-codamol can stop some medicines working as well as they should.
Tell your doctor if you’re taking:
sleeping pills or tranquillisers – particularly benzodiazepines such as diazepam, temazepam or lorazepam
antidepressants – some types do not mix with co-codamol
medicines to stop you feeling or being sick such as domperidone or metoclopramide
blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants) such as warfarin
medicines to treat infection, particularly rifampicin or ciprofloxacin
Mixing co-codamol with herbal remedies and supplements
It’s not possible to say whether complementary medicines and herbal remedies are safe to take with co-codamol.
They’re not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They’re generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines.