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Co-Codamol / Zapain

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Co-codamol

What is Co-codamol?

Co-codamol / Zapain 30/500 tablets (also referred to as co-codamol throughout this information) are effective over the counter clinical drugs for pain management.

Co-codamol can bring relief from mild to moderate pain from symptoms such as toothache, migraine, headache, period pain; and joint and muscle aches and pains.

Zapain and co-codamol are both a pain-relieving treatment for acute pain. Zapain is a branded variant of the generic treatment co-codamol. Both co-codamol and Zapain contain a mixture of paracetamol and codeine.

The active ingredients are both a type of painkiller; as tablets contain codeine, co-codamol is also a treatment that belongs to a group of medications called opioid analgesics. This medicine contains 30mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol.

For further information on co-codamol, please see the Patient Information Leaflet for co-codamol and Zapain.

How it works

Co-codamol, like other analgesic medicines to treat pain, works by reducing signals from the body to the brain.

All analgesic opioids mimic endorphins produced by the human body. Codeine is converted into morphine by an enzyme in the liver. Paracetamol is thought to reduce the intensity of pain signals to the brain through receptors in the central nervous system.

The effects of co-codamol work within 1 hour of taking the medicine.

Before you take it

Most healthy adults can take co-codamol; tablets are however not recommended for children under 12 years of age without direct medical advice from a healthcare professional.

It is important to take great caution if you’re using any other pain-relieving medication that contains paracetamol. Talk to your doctor first before taking co-codamol.

Co-codamol is usually taken when regular painkillers such as paracetamol, co-codamol, aspirin or ibuprofen alone have not worked.

It is important for your own health and safety that if you already suffer symptoms of an allergic reaction related to co-codamol or any other ingredient in this drug, you do not use co-codamol without first referring to your doctor or pharmacist.

It is also recommended that you do not take co-codamol if you have increased pressure in the head, recently had a head injury, have epilepsy, liver damage, kidney disease or high blood pressure.

As co-codamol has the potential to incur sleepiness, it is unsuitable for people whom regularly drink more than the recommended maximum amount of 14 units of alcohol per week.

Co-codamol is unsuitable for some patients. You should speak to your doctor or healthcare professional if any of the following apply to you:

  • Have lung or breathing conditions such as lung disease
  • Have allergen hypersensitivity or regularly have an asthma attack
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Have problems with your liver or kidneys
  • Are either pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are taking other medications including herbal remedies

Dosage Instructions

Dosage for co-codamol is 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours. It is to be taken no more than 4 times a day. It is important not to exceed this. The maximum dose is 8 tablets in 24 hours.

TThe tablet must be taken whole with water and not crushed; co-codamol can also be taken with or without food. Do not drink alcohol while taking co-codamol.

With persisting pain, do not take multiple doses of co-codamol in one go and do not use for longer than directed or for more than 3 days. If you do not start to feel better or symptoms do not subside within the prescribed time period, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice for a more suitable pain relief.

Common Side Effects of Co-codamol

It is possible that you are allergic to some of the ingredients in this medication. Tell your doctor at once if you show signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • Skin rash
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Inflammation of the legs, arms, face, lips, throat, or tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion or anxiety

In case of serious side effects, stop taking treatment and call a doctor for symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Slow or slurred speech

Possible but less serious side effects of Co-codamol are:

  • Loss of appetite, feeling sick or vomiting
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and sickness

Co-codamol affects your ability to drive safely. The possible side effects of this medication may cause you to feel sleepy. It is advised against driving or operating heavy machinery while using co-codamol and for the duration of its effects.

Extra Support

Co-codamol is a short-term treatment of acute pain only. Taking this medicine for longer than prescribed is dangerous as co-codamol is a type of opioid. Using an opioid for a long time can lead to addiction and increased risk of dependency. It is therefore not a long-term solution for chronic pain.

Please see our Opioid Policy and Prescription Limit before ordering this medication. If you’re suffering with addiction to co-codamol or any other substance, read our addiction page here.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is Co-codamol safe for children?

Co-codamol is not recommended for children under 12 years of age without direct medical advice due to severe risk of breathing problems. We do not prescribe any medication to anyone under 18.

Do I need a prescription?

It depends on dose strength. Lower-strength tablets are available over the counter from pharmacies. Higher-strength tablets are only available on prescription.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Co-codamol?

Co-codamol isn’t generally recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women as codeine and morphine can pass into breast milk. Talk to your doctor first before taking this treatment.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose, take your usual amount as soon as you remember. It is recommended to take only your prescribed amount per dose as instructed.

What happens if I take too much?

Vigilance with dosing is important as taking more medication than directed could be detrimental to your health. Take co-codamol only as directed by your prescriber and do not share treatment. In a case of accidental overdose, you may feel lethargic, sick or dizzy. If you suspect yourself or anyone else has taken too much, do not take any more medication and contact your local hospital or A&E centre immediately. Take your prescription with you so is it clear what medication you’ve used.

More Information
Dosage No
Dosage Instructions Take TWO tablets every FOUR hours Max EIGHT tablets in TWENTY-FOUR hours.