Paracetamol is one of the most common substances involved in childhood poisoning. It is found in most homes and is often used frequently but paracetamol can be very dangerous if not used correctly! When taken as recommended, paracetamol is relatively safe, but if too much is taken, it can be dangerous and cause serious effects including liver damage.

Children Are Often Poisoned By Paracetamol

Why Do Poisonings With Paracetamol Occur So Commonly In Children?

Other reasons for childhood poisoning may be found here.

Why Can Too Much Paracetamol Be Dangerous?

After it has had its intended effect, a small amount of paracetamol is easily removed from the body. When a large amount of paracetamol is taken, the body can not remove it so well and a toxic by-product of paracetamol builds up in the body. A person may not have any symptoms, beyond mild upset stomach until this by-product has built up. Under certain conditions, the liver can be damaged, and the patient may start to experience symptoms like pain on the right hand side of their stomach or chest. The liver performs a lot of important functions in the body, and liver damage can make someone very ill.

It is very important to treat paracetamol overdose seriously, even if the person has no symptoms, as there are several ways doctors can prevent this damage from occurring, especially early before symptoms occur.

If you suspect a paracetamol poisoning has occurred, seek advice immediately from your Poisons Centre or Doctor even if the child appears fine!

How Can I Prevent Poisoning With Paracetamol?

When giving paracetamol:

Storage of Paracetmol:

More information on correct storage of medicines can be found here and here.
More information on correct use of child resistant caps can be found here.

First Aid for Paracetamol - What Should I Do?

Related Resources
Child Resistant Packaging - A leaflet detailing the use of child-resistant packaging
Prevent Poisoning: Keeping Children Safe From Poisons - A brochure on general poisoning prevention information including home safety tips
Put Your Kid's Safety First - A brochure detailing the risk of dishwasher detergents and simple safety tips for their use