Liver damage due to acetominophen is not only common but it leads to over 100,000 phone calls to poison control centers, over 60,000 ER visits, and results in many deaths each year. In fact, liver damage due to Tylenol is one of the leading causes of liver transplants here and abroad.
By now you may have heard that Tylenol (acetaminophen) can damage the liver. These liver problems arise when:
- Too much acetaminophen is ingested
- Alcohol is consumed while taking this drug
- More than one medication containing acetaminophen is taken (you may not even realize you have taken two or more doses of acetaminophen)
- Acetaminophen is used while pregnant
- Acetaminophen is taken with other drugs that have dangerous interactions (163 drugs)
When using acetaminophen, keep the following facts in mind:
Acetaminophen can be found in over 600 OTC and prescription medications, making it easy to take more than the recommended dosages in a given period of time.
The maximum amount taken should not exceed 4,000 mg (4 grams) in a 24-hour period; it should be noted that even small amounts over this cap can be toxic for the liver.
Drinking alcohol, as well as using certain medications in conjunction with acetaminophen can further enhance chance of liver damage/failure.
The FDA has taken steps to reduce chances of acetaminophen liver damage: it has recommended that individual capsule/tablets not exceed 325mg, and it has also recommended that the drug be removed from some pain medicines (e.g., Percocet & Vicodin) and that black box warning labels be required on all medications containing this drug.
There are 4 phases of acetominophen-induced liver damage/poisoning.
Phase 1: within 24 hours; symptoms include nausea, paleness, vomiting and too much sweating.
Phase 2: within 18 to 72 hours; right sided upper abdomen pain, irregular heart beat, and high blood pressure.
Phase 3: 72 to 86 hours; the most critical phase; pain, liver damage/failure, noted by hypoglycemia (lowered blood sugar), jaundice, coagulopathy (leading to bleeding), possible loss of normal brain activity, and some organ failures.
Phase 4: four days to 3 weeks; it involves recovery.
Liver damage/failure may also include: clay-tinted stool, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of skin, etc.), noticeable skin reactions/conditions. These skin conditions may include blistering, pigment changes, rashes, dry, scaly skin, scarring and, in severe cases, blindness.
Acetaminophen can be found in a number of OTC medications: Benadryl, Actifed, Dristan, Formula 44, Cepacol, Dayquil, Excedrin, Anacin, Dimetapp, Midol, Robitussin, Sinutab, Triaminic, Vicks, Nyquil, Saint Joseph, Sudafed, Panadon, Theraflu, etc.
Acetaminophen can also be found in many prescribed meds: Endocet, Hydroct, Percocet, Tapano , Ulatracet, Hydrocodone, Phenaphen, Vicodin, Hycotab, Lortab, Sedapap, Tylox, Zydone, etc.
You need to determine if the drugs you take on a regular basis contain acetaminophen; it may be listed as “APAP,” AC, Acetaminophen, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, or Acetam.
Avoid taking chemicals to treat pain whenever possible. Chiropractic, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are several of the treatment ways that can be safely used for treating pain and fever. Finding natural alternatives for inflammation (eg. Ginger), reducing inflammation through diet and taking care of join pain by restoring better mechanics with chiropractic are great ways to avoid the potentially serious side effects of too much acetaminophen.
Chiropractic, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are all terrific (and safe) ways of handling fever. Remember too, small fevers (less than 103F) are present to help your body eradicate illness and should be left to run their course. Hydration is better than acetaminophen in these instances.
Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. (Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects.)
Our doctors are ready to help you minimize your need for acetaminophen. Call (636)928-5588 to schedule an appointment today!