Acetaminophen – Uses, Side Effects, and More

How to use Acetaminophen

Take this product by mouth as directed. Follow all directions on the product package. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

There are many brands and forms of acetaminophen available. Read the dosing instructions carefully for each product because the amount of acetaminophen may be different between products. Do not take more acetaminophen than recommended. (See also the Warning section.)

If you are giving acetaminophen to a child, be sure you use a product that is meant for children. Use your child’s weight to find the right dose on the product package. If you don’t know your child’s weight, you can use their age.

For suspensions, shake the medication well before each dose. Some liquids do not need to be shaken before use. Follow all directions on the product package. Measure the liquid medication with the provided dose-measuring spoon/dropper/syringe to make sure you have the correct dose. Do not use a household spoon.

For rapidly-dissolving tablets, chew or allow to dissolve on the tongue, then swallow with or without water. For chewable tablets, chew thoroughly before swallowing.

Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Swallow the tablets whole.

For effervescent tablets, dissolve the dose in the recommended amount of water, then drink.

Pain medications work best if they are used as the first signs of pain occur. If you wait until the symptoms have worsened, the medication may not work as well.

Do not take this medication for fever for more than 3 days unless directed by your doctor. For adults, do not take this product for pain for more than 10 days (5 days in children) unless directed by your doctor. If the child has a sore throat (especially with high fever, headache, or nausea/vomiting), consult the doctor promptly.

Tell your doctor if your condition lasts or gets worse or if you develop new symptoms. If you think you may have a serious medical problem, get medical help right away.

Side Effects

See also the Warning section.

This drug usually has no side effects. If you have any unusual effects, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

See also the Warning section.

Before taking acetaminophen, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, regular use/abuse of alcohol.

Liquid products, chewable tablets, or dissolving/effervescent tablets and powders may contain sugar or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/avoid these substances in your diet. If you have any of these conditions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about using these products safely.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication.

Acetaminophen passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Consult your pharmacist or physician.

Interactions

See also the Warning section.

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug are ketoconazole, levoketoconazole.

This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests, possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.

Overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sweating, stomach/abdominal pain, extreme tiredness, yellowing eyes/skin, and dark urine.

Notes

Acetaminophen does not cause stomach and intestinal ulcers that NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen may cause. However, acetaminophen does not reduce swelling (inflammation) as the NSAIDs do. Consult your doctor for more details and to see which medication might be right for you.

Missed Dose

If you are taking this medication on a regular schedule and miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store it in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

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