WTHR Indianapolis is reporting that with the flu season in full swing, acetaminophen is safe when taken properly. But doctors are warning that there is a limit to how much you can take in one day. If you take more acetaminophen than directed, it can ultimately lead to liver damage.
Acetaminophen is used to treat many conditions such as headache, muscle aches, arthritis, backache, toothaches, colds, and fevers.
Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America. It is found in more than 600 different medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines.
If you get the flu, you will want to stop or slow the symptoms as much as you can. But taking too much acetaminophen, most commonly used to treat headaches, can cause damage - even death - if you exceed the daily dose.
Dr. Greg Miller, Director of St. Francis Immediate Care Center in Beech Grove stated, "It's certainly toxic, can cause liver damage and that can be fatal. Overdosing on acetaminophen is one of the most common poisons that we see in the country,"
"Acetaminophen is literally in hundreds of different medications," Dr. Miller explained, "including many cold and cough medicines and some prescriptions like Vicodin."
Most of the time you are overdosing on acetaminophen and don't even realize it.
"I think most people do a pretty good job following the instructions. I think when they're really feeling bad with influenza, that's when you have a greater likelihood of exceeding the dose," Dr. Miller said.
The maximum adult dose of acetaminophen is 4000 milligrams per day, or about two tablets every six hours. For kids ages 2 to 11, dosage is even less.
Doctors say the ways to stay safe include reading and following the label directions for use, checking the ingredients on your medications, and never taking more than two medicines with acetaminophen, and never mix alcohol with any type of medications.
If you happen to overdose please call poison control immediately.