Extra stamin Tylenol is among several typical painkillers containing acetaminophen, one ingredient the is toxic in high doses. Brendan Smialowski/Getty pictures hide caption




You are watching: How much acetaminophen can kill you

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Extra toughness Tylenol is one of several typical painkillers containing acetaminophen, an ingredient that is toxicity in high doses.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty photos

So girlfriend can"t walk to sleep without her two tablets of Tylenol PM, and you"ve already taken three doses the Tylenol Arthritis Pain. Are you end the acetaminophen limit?

Yes, follow to a Food and Drug administration advisory committee. And the results might be major liver problems.

By a poll of 21-16, the committee encourage lowering the day-to-day maximum the acetaminophen, the active painkilling ingredient in Tylenol and also many other products, from the present level the 4,000 milligrams. The trouble is, the committee didn"t specify what the limit need to be, leaving consumers a little bit puzzled.

Two tablets of Tylenol PM have actually 1,000 milligrams the acetaminophen. Three two-tablet sheep of arthritis formula Tylenol have 3,900 milligrams, so the doesn"t take much to overshoot the present maximum level.

The dashboard voted 36-1 come recommend the the FDA put a boxed warning top top prescription drugs containing acetaminophen. And also it narrowly dubbed for banning prescription drugs prefer Vicodin and Percocet, which contain both acetaminophen and also a narcotic. The dashboard reasoned ~ much controversy that civilization should take paracetamol separately.

What the committee and the FDA are weighing is the benefit of acetaminophen over various other painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and also naproxen. Paracetamol does not cause the stomach upset these other painkillers have the right to cause, but its relationship to liver toxicity has worried the firm for years.




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Karl Lorenz, a dashboard member native the VA medical care System said, "There is nothing without risk, and nothing there is no potential benefit."

The FDA is considering the panel"s recommendations and has no yet determined whether to alleviate the day-to-day dose. But it"s most likely the FDA will act in some manner.

The company issued brand-new regulations for over-the-counter medicine in 2003 the contain acetaminophen, saying that acetaminophen content should be plainly listed. The FDA additionally required a declare saying that high sheep can reason liver problems. Signs of difficulties include nausea, vomiting, jaundice and tenderness in the upper ideal abdomen.

There"s not a lot of of present information on how serious the instance is. Follow to one eight-year study conducted by the FDA during the 1990s, acetaminophen overdose led to 56,000 emergency room visits every year, and also 458 deaths per year.

So what"s her risk? it depends.

For kids 5 and also younger, the mayo Clinic states that more than 91 milligrams per pound of body weight taken in ~ 24 hours merits emergency care. So for a 50-pound child, that would certainly be 4,550 milligrams, or around nine adult Extra stamin Tylenol. For youngsters age 6 and also older, it"s that same 91 milligrams every pound, or 10,000 milligrams, the identical of 20 adult Extra toughness Tylenol.

For adults, there"s no clean number. Generally speaking, 10,000 come 15,000 milligrams is likely to do serious harm to the liver. That would be around 20 come 30 Extra strength Tylenol, or 10 to 15 Vicodin add to 10 come 15 Extra toughness Tylenol in a day. More than 20,000 milligrams that acetaminophen can be fatal. However different people react differently: Some people can take an ext with no obvious damage, some can"t; there"s no way to predict.


How many world overdose is also an open question. One study uncovered 275 cases of acute liver failure because of acetaminophen in the 5 years indigenous 1998 come 2003. Fifty percent were a an outcome of self-destruction attempts. However in half of the incidences, civilization didn"t recognize that they were taking as well much.

And that"s a big concern to the FDA and also its advisory committee. World unknowingly get acetaminophen in over-the-counter drugs choose NyQuil and also TheraFlu. And also they gain it in prescription opioid drugs like Vicodin and also Percocet, too.

If human being up their opioids to get an ext pain relief, they"re taking more acetaminophen. If they"ve been acquisition acetaminophen all day and down some NyQuil to aid them sleep, they might be going end the limit.

The FDA sometimes, yet not always, adheres to the advice that its committees.

So there"s most likely to be acetaminophen in her future, if you desire it. Yet you can be taking reduced doses, or acquisition it individually from opioids.

In the meantime, what carry out you do?

Pay fist to what"s in your medication cabinet, claims Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA"s Office of brand-new Drugs. "Families have to ... Make certain they know, for any medicine they"re taking, how much is the most they must take at any one time or on any given day."