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Everyone should take the time to learn about and be aware of acetaminophen side effects.  Acetaminophen, also known by the brand name Tylenol, is a pain reliever used for easing muscle pain, lowering fever, and alleviating headache and mild pain.  As with any medication, it has have some side effects, and everyone responds differently to drugs of the same dosage.

Acetaminophen Side Effects

Acetaminophen Side Effects

If a person ingests too much acetaminophen at one time, or takes this pain reliever too often, they may experience side effects.  Side effects are also intensified and can cause severe complications by use in conjunction with alcohol or other substances.

Some Acetaminophen Side Effects

Some people are allergic to acetaminophen and experience non-lethal discomfort upon taking this drug. If you are experiencing any of these acetaminophen side effects while taking acetaminophen or medicine containing it, talk to your doctor about non-acetaminophen alternatives.

Signs of allergic reaction to acetaminophen include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat
  • Light-headedness
  • Shakiness
  • Lower back pain
  • Minor bruising

If you are experiencing any of the following side effects after taking acetaminophen, tell your doctor immediately. Write down how much of the drug you have taken, and your current body weight. While these side effects are rare, some people experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Painful urination, blood in urine, or dark urine
  • Light stools
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, ulcers
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure, rapid pulse, anxiety
  • Rash or hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Excessive bruising or bleeding
  • Swelling of mouth, tongue, or lips
  • Yellow tinge to the skin or eyes (jaundice)

In an effort to protect consumers from the danger of liver toxicity when using acetaminophen, the FDA Drug Safety Communication states that prescription acetaminophen products must be limited to 325 mg per dosage unit.  This is an effective measure, however, in view of the fact that acetaminophen is found in over 600 over-the-counter and prescription drugs, the potential for someone suffering dangerous side effects is quite high.

Some of the more commonly prescribed prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen include, but are not limited to:

  • Acetaminophen with hydrocodone bitartrate (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Zydon)
  • Acetaminophen with oxycodone hydrochloride (Percocet, Roxicet, Tylox)

Some of the more commonly used over-the-counter drugs that contain acetaminophen include, but are not limited to:

  • Actifed, Benadryl, Dayquil, Excedrin, Formula 44, Nyquil, Theraflu, Zicam

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), consumers purchased over 28 billion doses of products containing acetaminophen in a single year.  They also estimate that 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 admissions, and 458 deaths resulted from acetaminophen related problems in an eight year period.  Although these products are considered safe, it is imperative that extreme caution be exercised when using them.

Follow Dosage Directions to Minimize Acetaminophen Side Effects

The FDA is continuing their efforts to educate physicians and the general public about the dangers of acetaminophen. Some of the requirements they have established include making sure manufacturers label products with a warning about the effects of using acetaminophen with alcohol or of exceeding the recommended dosage.

An overdose of acetaminophen is sometimes, but rarely, lethal.  Too much of this drug can cause kidney failure, liver failure, or heart attack, and internal bleeding may precede an ulcer.  Combining acetaminophen with other drugs, even drugs as common as caffeine or over-the-counter cough syrup, and especially alcohol, can make symptoms much worse.

Take all medications including acetaminophen according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Consult with a physician if the drug seems ineffective. Do not increase the recommended dosage yourself, and if you notice any of these acetaminophen side effects, contact us to learn how we can help.

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