Acetaminophen is one of those drugs that many of us may take for granted. Many of us will take the drug for minor aches and pains, headaches, and to reduce a fever. While brand names like Tylenol are a primary source of acetaminophen, the drug is also commonly found in cold remedies and other widely available over-the-counter medications as well. A recent study recently highlighted the commonplace misuse of the drug. It also suggested some possible reasons for the overuse and some possible solutions. Pharmacist.com reports on the story.
The study collected detailed data from online research panels for 7.569 adults.
The data showed that people were more likely to overuse when they used 650mg of extended-release products.
According to Mark Holtsman, the co-director of inpatient pain services and clinical professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at University of California Davis Medical Center, approximately half of all acetaminophen overdoses are unintentional.
Unlike aspirin and NSAID pain relievers, acetaminophen does nothing to manage inflammation. However, NSAIDs can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, so many people are unable to NSAIDs and instead use acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen, however, can damage the liver, primarily through overdose or continued overuse or prolonged use. This can lead to the need for a liver transplant and in some cases, death. The liver manages to break down most of the acetaminophen compound into safe components that are eliminated from the body. However, a small amount is metabolized to a compound that is toxic. With normal, recommended use, this toxin is quickly eliminated. However, taking too much acetaminophen at one time or over a period can result in liver damage.
For the average healthy adult, the recommended daily dosage of acetaminophen is no more than 4,000 mg from all sources.
Many of those who consume over the counter cold medications, sleep aids, and allergy medications are unaware that they also contain acetaminophen. This, when combined with products like Tylenol and prescription medications can lead to unintentional overuse.
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