(HealthyResearch.com) – Tylenol (acetaminophen) can feel like a regular miracle worker when it comes to knocking out pain. But this over-the-counter medication has a dark side, too. It’s responsible for tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
Tylenol Can Destroy the Liver
According to the American Council on Science and Health, about 450 people die each year from acetaminophen overdose. Around 100 of these cases involve self-harm or suicide. The rest are unintentional or inadvertent on the part of the patient.
Many of the deaths attributed to Tylenol involve liver damage. In fact, up to 25,000 people are hospitalized for acetaminophen-related liver complications every single year in the United States. People can suffer liver damage from long-term use, too, even when they’re sticking to the recommended doses.
Liver damage risks are higher for:
- People who drink three or more alcoholic beverages each day. Alcohol compounds the toxic effects of Tylenol overdose. These individuals are at severe risk of damaging themselves with regular or significant use.
- People who take higher doses or wait shorter spans between doses. This increases the possibility of complications, especially if use exceeds 1000mg per dose or 3000mg in total per day. Tylenol provides a full breakdown of safe dosing guidelines for patients and professionals.
- People with pre-existing liver disease. Those already suffering from liver problems may have a higher risk of serious damage when they use Tylenol. If this applies to you or someone you love, speak with your doctor before taking this drug. He or she may want to further reduce your dose, or they may recommend another drug altogether.
A big issue with acetaminophen is that it’s present in numerous types of medications, both prescription and over the counter. Unless users are diligent about reading labels, they may accidentally double the dose — especially if they’re taking multiple meds for their pain. That can be a deadly mistake.
GoodRX points out that prescription medications ending in “cet” (percocet, for example) generally contain acetaminophen. Confusingly, there are exceptions, such as vicodin and esgic. That’s why it’s important to check the label every single time.
Tylenol May Lead to GI Complications
Acetaminophen can cause gastrointestinal complications in patients who rely on higher doses for relief. These risks increase substantially when the user mixes acetaminophen with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) like ibuprofen or aspirin.
When complications do arise, they usually come in the form of perforations and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Mayo Clinic warns to watch out for black, “tarry” stools, rectal bleeding and bloody vomit. These may have an appearance similar to coffee grounds or red currant jelly.
Tylenol Can Interact With Other Medications
Some drugs can interact adversely with acetaminophen. According to Drugs.com, people taking barbiturates, certain antibiotics, chemotherapies, seizure medications, anti-gout drugs and blood thinners should seek professional advice before taking acetaminophen. Alcohol use may increase your risk of drug interactions.
Tylenol may be a safe and effective pain reliever for the average population, but it can still cause undesirable complications in some. Remember: even when risks are low, they do still exist. Take the time to read all medication labels, limit your use of alcohol, and be aware of potential interactions — it might save your life.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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