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Paracetamol warning: Painkiller can cause frequent coughing – what else to look out for


The pain relief medication can take up an hour to work its magic, and is suitable for most people – except those who have an allergic reaction. What are the signs you’re not suited for paracetamol? The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) warn of bronchospasm as a possible side effect of taking the painkiller. Experts at Winchester Hospital explained: “Bronchospasm is a reversible narrowing of the airways in response to a stimulus.”

Paracetamol can act as a trigger, causing sensitive airways to tighten, swell and produce excess mucus.

Signs of bronchospasm can include:

  • Coughing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Factors for increasing your risk of bronchospasm include having a family history of asthma.

Occupational exposure to chemicals, smoke, fumes or vapours could cause a heightened chance of developing bronchospasm.

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This includes those with liver or kidney problems, those who drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week, and those who take medication for epilepsy.

Furthermore, anybody taking the blood-thinner warfarin also needs to speak to a pharmacist before taking paracetamol.

Other causes of frequent coughing

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, one of the main symptoms of a Covid infection includes frequent coughing.

The NHS describes “a new, continuous cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)”.

However, if you suffer from a chronic cough, smoking is the leading cause.

Sooner or later, most smokers develop a chronic “smoker’s cough” as the body is irritated by the chemicals breathed in through smoking.

Those dangerous chemicals can lead to bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and lung cancer.

For non-smokers, there are five main reasons why you might have a chronic cough, which are:

  • Postnasal drip
  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Treatment with ACE inhibitors.


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