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Acetaminophen warning: Detrimental health risks, say warning of painkiller pills

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An acetaminophen warning has been made public recently, with the popular painkiller pills posing potential detrimental health risks to users if taken incorrectly. A new study has also revealed that if over 325 milligrams of the medicine are administered in one sitting, liver damage may result. CNN shares five important facts that users of acetaminophen should be aware of, in addition to some of the most recent information surrounding the well-known drug this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.

The acetaminophen warning comes straight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Health officials released the public service announcement to both doctors and patients about taking medications that contain over 325 milligrams of the drug acetaminophen in particular. While these painkillers are quite harmless in small to regular doses, taking too much of these tiny pills might cause serious health problems, including liver failure.

Five additional facts provided by the source about this acetaminophen warning also put this widely used painkiller into clearer perspective (here is a link to detrimental issues that the painkiller can cause to the skin).

Contrary to popular belief, acetaminophen is not particularly effective for use regarding muscle pain. A painkiller prescribed for weak to mild or moderate pain, experts believe that acetaminophen works mostly through the central nervous system. As such, it is said to be quite useful when suffering from fever, minor aches or pains, or bad headaches. However, the pills won’t help very much when dealing with inflammation or muscle pain, such as that from a strain or pulled muscle.

While acetaminophen is most commonly known to be found as a primary active ingredient in the popular Tylenol, another piece of this acetaminophen warning this week is the knowledge that the drug is actually found in quite a few other medicines as well. These include Robitussin, Sudafed, and even Excedrin. Reading through drug labels or ingredients on patient info leaflets that often come with pill boxes and prescriptions can help you know what’s inside your painkillers or other pills, and how much you should be taking for a healthy dosage.

Aside from the potential health risks, health experts say it’s very easy to take a bit too much acetaminophen, even accidentally. Doing so can lead to liver failure and in the most extreme cases, death. Overdoses of this well-known and widespread painkiller are said to be some of the most frequent cases of poisoning not just here in the U.S., but worldwide.

Fourthly, acetaminophen is not meant for hangovers. “Taking acetaminophen with alcohol, even in small amounts, can increase your risk of liver damage and/or kidney disease. In a warning from the Health Administration, the drug is primarily metabolized in the liver, where it is turned into nontoxic compounds that are eliminated through urination. But the liver needs something called glutathione to do that. If your glutathione levels are low -- which can be caused by chronic drinking, an unhealthy diet or fasting -- the drug may be metabolized into a more toxic substance.”

Finally, acetaminophen is no miracle drug. It is useful in fighting the occasional fever or headache pain, but parents should always work with children to help avoid potential dosage errors, and the detrimental health effects that can result if these warning of the medicine are not followed. “From drug labels to online research, parents should always use the measuring tool that comes with the medication, the FDA says -- never a kitchen spoon.”

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