Tylenol® Terror!

Most people think of Tylenol (generic name: acetaminophen) as a safe medication for pain. After all, you can buy it without a prescription. While it is relatively safe when taken as directed, acetaminophen is also toxic to the liver when taken in excess. If the liver dies so will the body unless a replacement liver is transplanted.

The liver is an essential organ that helps keep the body’s chemistry in balance. It also makes important proteins so that blood will clot when we bleed. When the liver dies, toxins build up in the body causing altered mental function, eventual coma, and death. This is complicated by worsening unstoppable bleeding. All in all it’s a horrible way to die and is certainly not quick and painless.

The maximum dose of acetaminophen anyone should take is 1000mg (1 gram) at a time and a total of 4000mg (4 grams) in one day. If you drink alcohol, have bad kidneys, or have a bad liver, you will have to take less and should be under doctor supervision.

Please check your medications carefully! Acetaminophen has been added to many other medications and you may not even realize that you are taking it unless you pay attention. Some over-the-counter medications that have acetaminophen are Excedrin, NyQuil, Pamprin, Sudafed, and Theraflu. Some prescription medications that have acetaminophen are Lortab, Percocet, and Vicodin. When in doubt, ask a doctor or pharmacist for help.

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