The Brand that Hospitals Trust Just Might Kill You

By Lee Bellinger / December 1, 2015

Cover-up Alert! This Popular Pain Reliever Destroys Your Liver

You may have a lethal painkiller in your medicine cabinet. All it takes is an easy-to-make mistake and it could trigger liver failure.

What is this deadly drug? It might surprise you to learn it’s Tylenol.

For decades, Tylenol’s marketing team has carefully crafted an image of their pain reliever as safe and gentle. It’s the one doctors and hospitals trust, right?

Perhaps that’s a mistake. If you have warm and fuzzy feelings toward Tylenol, prepare for a rude awakening.

The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. More than other pain relievers, this one is dangerous. Especially if you take it in higher-than-recommended doses. It can even be dangerous when you take it according to the instructions on the label.

This isn’t some flimsy threat to your health. It’s very real. And the numbers are truly scary.

Be Kind to Your Liver:

Avoid This Pain Reliever

So how dangerous is Tylenol? According to government data, 78,000 Americans end up in emergency rooms every year because of acetaminophen overdoses. Of those, 33,000 need hospitalization. And hundreds die.

You can get acetaminophen poisoning by taking just double the recommended dose. For comparison, you would need to take 20 times the recommended dose of ibuprofen to reach toxicity.

With aspirin, it takes about 7 times the recommended dose. (Aspirin can be dangerous for different reasons, though. Some people develop stomach pain or internal bleeding even at much lower levels of aspirin intake).

The active ingredient in Tylenol is like poison to your liver. In fact, acetaminophen is by far the leading cause of acute liver failure. If you have liver problems, you should avoid Tylenol. Even if you don’t, but there’s a history of liver problems in your family, you might want to think twice.

Be Extra Cautious About Opting for Extra Strength

Regular strength Tylenol contains 325 mg of acetaminophen in each tablet. Extra strength comes in at 500 mg. Extra strength means extra risk. If you truly need an extra strength pain reliever, consider other options.

Also, be careful about hidden sources of acetaminophen. Many multi-symptom medicines contain this painkiller. Many overdoses happen accidently. It’s often because people take more than one type of medicine with acetaminophen. They don’t realize they’re doubling up on their dosage.

Always check the label of any over-the-counter medicine for acetaminophen. Never take more than 3000 mg of this drug in a day.

Some consumer protection watchdogs want the FDA to cut the maximum dosage for acetaminophen. Others want to ban its sale over-the-counter. These activists say the drug would never be approved if it were introduced today.

That may be true. But limiting consumer choices in the name of protecting them has its own dangers.

For some people, acetaminophen works better than other medicines for their specific type of pain. The health risks for most people are low as long as they stay within the recommended dosage. And as long as they don’t take acetaminophen for an extended number of days.

Rotate Pain Relievers to Minimize Risk

Don’t use Tylenol as a daily pain reliever. If you have chronic pain, talk to your doctor about other options.

If you need to take pain relievers regularly, try rotating them. If you take Tylenol one day, take ibuprofen the next. Or aspirin. You don’t need to switch them every day, but it’s good to avoid taking the same a pain reliever for several days in a row. Especially if that pain reliever contains acetaminophen.

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