Co-codamol (Kapake, Solpadol, Tylex) | Cancer Research UK
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What co-codamol is

Co-codamol is a painkiller. It is a combination of two drugs – paracetamol and codeine.

You have co-codamol for moderate pain. Doctors often prescribe it to relieve pain after surgery.

Co-codamol is available in different doses. They all contain 500mg of paracetamol (the same as one regular paracetamol tablet or capsule) but the dose of codeine varies and can be 8mg, 15mg or 30 mg. The dose that is right for you will depend on the amount you need to control your pain. 

Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to take co-codamol and how much to have. The normal dose for adults is 1 or 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours. The maximum you should take is 8 in 24 hours.


How co-codamol works

Paracetamol controls pain by interfering with substances that the body makes in response to injury. These substances are called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins make nerves more sensitive, so you feel pain. By reducing the amount of prostaglandin you feel less pain, or none at all.

Codeine is a type of opioid. Opioids work by mimicking the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins. They control pain by blocking pain messages to the brain. There are different types of opioids – strong ones and weak ones. Codeine is a weak opioid.


How you take co-codamol

Co-codamol is available as a

  • Tablet that you swallow with water
  • Capsule that you swallow with water
  • Soluble tablet (effervescent or dispersible) that you dissolve in water

There are several brand names for co-codamol including Solpadol, Tylex and Kapake. You can buy small packets of the lower dose preparations over the counter. But for larger packets and for the higher doses, you need a prescription from your doctor.


Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these.

  • Constipation – your doctor may give you laxatives to help prevent this but do tell them if you are constipated for more than 3 days
  • Drowsiness may be a problem at first, but usually wears off after a few days – don't drive or operate machinery if you have this
  • Feeling or being sick – this is usually well controlled with anti sickness medicines

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these.

  • A skin rash
  • Dizziness – don't drive or operate machinery if you have this
  • A dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Narrowing of the pupils in your eyes
  • Griping pain in your stomach – if you have this and haven’t opened your bowels for a few days tell your doctor

Rare side effects

Fewer than 1 in 100 people have these.

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Slowing of the heart beat or palpitations – tell your doctor or nurse as you may need a lower dose of co-codamol
  • A drop in blood pressure – let your nurse know if you suddenly feel dizzy or faint
  • Difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, neck, tongue or throat due to an allergic reaction – tell your nurse straight away if you have this

Important points to remember

The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse as you continue to take co-codamol. It may depend on 

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)
  • Other drugs you are having

Coping with side effects

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.

Remember that you shouldn’t take any other paracetamol containing tablets or capsules while you are taking co-codamol.


Do not breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in the breast milk.


More information about this drug

This information does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at


Related information

You can read more about paracetamol.

We also have information about codeine.

There is a section about controlling cancer pain.

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Updated: 13 February 2015