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What are Acetaminophen Suppositories?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Paracetamol or acetaminophen suppositories are medications taken by rectum, instead of orally, and can help with pain relief and fever reduction. Both oral and suppository types of this analgesic, antipyretic medicine work effectively, and there can be strong reasons why a suppository could be preferred. Greater caution that now exists with using acetaminophen applies in any of the forms it is delivered. People need to make sure they use this medicine as stated in the directions, and some people should not take any form of acetaminophen, though its availability is wide.

Suppositories are especially helpful in instances where people can’t tolerate oral medicines due to nausea. There is no danger of vomiting the medicine, though the nature of suppositories means people must make sure they don’t push them out of the rectum. Package directions on how to insert and store acetaminophen suppositories should be carefully followed.

Instructions may differ slightly, but acetaminophen suppositories generally are stored at room temperature as long as peak temperatures aren't higher than 80 degrees F (26.67 degrees C). When the temperature is warmer, the medicine can be stored in a fridge but not in the freezer. Each suppository is individually wrapped, and this wrapping must be removed prior to insertion.

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Insertion may be challenging for the squeamish, but is quickly learned. Using a glove or finger cot and possibly water-based lubricant, the person inserts the medicine up into the rectum. A person self-inserting should plan to lie on his side for a few minutes afterwards, and should avoid having a bowel movement for about 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to try to have one before insertion, if the urge to go is present.

Babies, who are frequent candidates for acetaminophen suppositories, do have a tendency to push this medicine right back out. Holding the buttocks together for a minute after insertion may prevent this. Note that suppositories come in different strengths, and people should make sure they get the appropriate strength amount for age and size. Though many countries sell these suppositories over the counter, they’re still usually sold directly by the pharmacist, and this person is an excellent resource for questions on how to use the medicine and what strengths are safe to use.

A tremendous amount of study on acetaminophen has led to important medical warnings. Because this medicine clears through the liver, it has the capacity to cause liver damage in even single higher than recommended doses. It is also not appropriate for use with alcohol consumption, with other medicines that affect the liver, or in cases where people have any form of present liver damage or disease. Suppository delivery of acetaminophen makes it no safer than oral delivery; both times the liver must process the medicine.

On the other hand, the ability to bypass the oral route by using acetaminophen suppositories is a relief for anyone suffering from stomach queasiness or nausea, and high fever. In some cultures, use of suppositories is much more acceptable than the use of pills. Preference varies among individuals and by region.

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