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Mixing different painkillers can cause accidental overdose, warns doctor – Be careful

This Morning: Dr Helen gives advice on mixing painkillers

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Speaking to daytime TV hosts, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Dr Lawal referred to new research that shows that ibuprofen is more effective at pain relief post surgery than co-codamol. Co-codamol is a mixture of paracetamol and codeine, which the doctor explains works in two ways. First, paracetamol “blocks chemical messengers that transmit the sensation of pain”.

Concurrently, the codeine – a “strong painkiller” – acts on the brain, on the opioid receptors.

Dr Lawal is surprised this type of medication is available over the counter, as there is a high risk of becoming dependent on it.

It’s for this reason that she strongly advises anybody thinking of taking co-codamol to speak to their doctor beforehand.

Asked if you can take different painkillers at the same time, Dr Lawal says you can, but you need to be “really careful”.

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“This is where it’s important to always consult with your GP before you consider taking any over-the-counter pain relief for long periods of time.

“If you are buying medication over the counter – some of them are all mixed in together anyway – you can end up having quite high doses of the same one.”

This could lead to an accidental overdose, the doctor elaborated.


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