I am proud to be working alongside The Acetaminophen Coalition as a Nurse Practitioner Spokeswoman for the the Know Your Dose Initiative.
The Coalition is made up of leading health, healthcare providers, and consumer organizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration serve as advisors to the Coalition.
The goal of the Coalition is to educate consumers and patients about how to use medicines containing acetaminophen appropriately and to help change behaviors that could lead to an unintentional acetaminophen overdose. Through outreach to healthcare providers, patients, and consumers, the coalition works to ensure that acetaminophen is used only as directed or labeled.
You, as a consumer, may be surprised about all the products that contain acetaminophen. Do you know what products contain acetaminophen? Do you know how much you can safely take?
- Acetaminophen is an ingredient found in more than 600 different over-the-counter and prescription medicines, including pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids, as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines.
- Acetaminophen is the most commonly used drug ingredient in America. It appears in over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and NyQuil and prescription drugs like Vicodin and Percocet. Because it’s in so many different medicines, people may be taking more than the recommended amount without realizing it.
- Acetaminophen is safe and effective when used as directed, but there is a limit to how much you can take in one day. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
- If you have questions about dosing instructions or the medicines that contain acetaminophen, feel free to ask me.
What Are Some Common Over the Counter Products You May Not Know That Contain Acetaminophen?
Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels®
Saint Joseph® Aspirin-Free
TYLENOL® Brand Products
*And store brands
What Are Some Prescription Products That Contain Acetaminophen?
Tylenol® with Codeine
*And generic drugs
It is important to know that acetaminophen is not only used in products for pain, but also for cold and flu symptoms. It is also found in many children’s formulations. So learn to read the labels and be a good consumer. Acetaminophen is a very safe and effective product when used appropriately and in appropriate amounts.
Why Does It Matter How Much Acetaminophen You or Your Child Takes?
Taking more acetaminophen than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends taking no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.
How Can You Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe When Taking Acetaminophen?
Follow three simple steps to use acetaminophen safely:
- Always read and follow the label.
Never take more medicine than the label says. Taking more acetaminophen than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
- Know if your medicines contain acetaminophen.
It is important to check the active ingredients in all of your medicines to see if they contain acetaminophen.
- On over-the-counter medicines the word “acetaminophen” is listed on the front of the package or bottle and in the active ingredient section of the Drug Facts label.
- On prescription labels, acetaminophen is sometimes listed as “APAP,” “acetam,” or other shortened versions of the word.
- Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time.
You can take too much acetaminophen if you use more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking acetaminophen if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks a day, if you have liver disease, or if you take warfarin. You may be at greater risk for liver damage. You should also talk to your healthcare professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking acetaminophen.