Beechams flu-plus caplets contain three active ingredients, paracetamol (500mg), phenylephrine (5mg) and caffeine (25mg).
Paracetamol is a simple painkilling medicine used to relieve mild to moderate pain and fever. Despite its widespread use for over 100 years, we still don't fully understand how paracetamol works to relieve pain and reduce fever. However, it is now thought that it works by reducing the production of prostaglandins in the brain and spinal cord.
The body produces prostaglandins in response to injury and certain diseases. One of the effects of prostaglandins is to sensitise nerve endings, causing pain (presumably to prevent us from causing further harm to the area). As paracetamol reduces the production of these nerve sensitising prostaglandins it is thought it may increase our pain threshold, so that although the cause of the pain remains, we can feel it less.
It is thought paracetamol reduces fever by affecting an area of the brain that regulates our body temperature (the hypothalamic heat-regulating center). The paracetamol in Beechams flu-plus caplets helps relieve aches, pains, sore throats and fever associated with colds and flu.
Phenylephrine is a type of medicine called a decongestant. It works by acting on alpha receptors that are found in the walls of blood vessels in the linings of the nasal passages and sinuses. It causes these blood vessels to contract and narrow, thereby decreasing blood flow into the linings of the nose and sinuses. This reduces the feeling of congestion and also reduces the production of mucus, helping to relieve a blocked nose.
Caffeine is a mild stimulant that helps reduce fatigue. Caffeine is also thought to enhance the painkilling effect of paracetamol.
The combination of active ingredients in Beechams flu-plus caplets helps to relieve the symptoms of colds and flu.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are already taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines and those bought without a prescription, you should check with your pharmacist before taking this medicine, to make sure that the combination is safe.
You should not use other cold and flu or decongestant medicines in combination with this one.
It's particularly important that you don't take other medicines that contain paracetamol in combination with this medicine, as this can easily result in exceeding the maximum recommended daily dose of paracetamol. Many cough, cold and flu remedies and over-the-counter painkillers contain paracetamol, so be sure to check the ingredients of other medicines before taking them with this one, or ask your pharmacist for advice.
You should not use this medicine if you are currently taking a type of medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), or have taken one of these medicines in the last 14 days. MAOIs include the antidepressants phenelzine, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid and moclobemide, and the anti-Parkinson's medicines selegiline and rasagiline. This is because the combination of phenylephrine with these medicines could cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure (hypertensive crisis).
If phenylephrine is taken with any of the following medicines, the combination may cause an increase in blood pressure. If you are already taking any of these medicines you should avoid taking this one as well:
Phenylephrine can oppose the effects of medicines to treat high blood pressure (antihypertensives). If you are taking medicines for high blood pressure you should not take this medicine.
Cholestyramine reduces the absorption of paracetamol from the gut. It should not be taken within an hour of taking this medicine or the effect of the paracetamol will be reduced.
Metoclopramide and domperidone may increase the absorption of paracetamol from the gut.
Long-term or regular use of paracetamol may increase the anti-blood-clotting effect of warfarin and other anticoagulant medicines, leading to an increased risk of bleeding. This effect does not occur with occasional pain-killing doses.
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A wealth of other cold and flu remedies are available to buy without a prescription. Many of these will also contain paracetamol, phenylephrine or caffeine in their ingredients.