Acetaminophen is a drug that is commonly used as a fever reducer and a pain reliever. Its brand name version, Tylenol, is widely recognized and, in many cases, is used as a substitute for aspirin. It is important that acetaminophen is used in the correct dosage. There is a detailed description that comes with the drug which clearly indicates the safe and beneficial amount for different age groups.
Intentionally or accidentally taking an unsafe dose of acetaminophen classifies as acetaminophen overdose. For most people it is recommended that they do not take more than 4000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24 hour period. Taking more than this amount can be classified as an overdose. Here are some ways an unintentional overdose can occur:
- Accidental overdose may occur when a patient takes more than the recommended dose because many patients take more pills if their pain or fever does not go away with the recommended dosage.
- It is common that many other drugs contain acetaminophen. Combining that dosage with your regular acetaminophen may cause an overdose of acetaminophen in your system.
- Taking an extended-release form of the pill is another way in which an overdose can occur. An extended release pill causes the medicine to stay in the body longer and in some cases you may have too much in your body at the wrong time.
It is highly advisable that you monitor your doses and take precautionary steps to avoid these overdoses. When you consume a large amount of acetaminophen, your body turns it into a metabolite that is toxic to your liver. As a result, your liver does not effectively eliminate the toxin and it starts cause damage to the organ.
Treatment for acetaminophen overdose largely depends on the amount of time that has passed since the overdose and if the overdose happened all at once, or over a period of time.
Generally acetaminophen overdose is a very serious condition and it can be prevented with extra caution. It always helps to read labels more carefully, taking one type of acetaminophen at a time, taking the correct dosage and not taking the drug too many days in a row.