Health Guide
Drug Guide

Acetaminophen (Oral route, rectal route)

Pronunciation:

a-seet-a-MIN-oh-fen

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Analgesic

Uses of This Medicine:

Acetaminophen is used to treat minor aches and pain and to reduce fever. It may also help treat pain from mild forms of arthritis.

This medicine is available without a prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of acetaminophen in children. However, do not give over-the-counter products to children under 2 years of age unless instructed to do so by your doctor.

Older adults

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of acetaminophen in the elderly.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersCAnimal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast-feeding

Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. Liver damage can occur if large amounts of acetaminophen are taken for a long time.

If you are taking this medicine without the advice of your doctor, carefully read the package label and follow the dosing instructions. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

Carefully check the labels of all other medicines you are using, because they may also contain acetaminophen. It is not safe to use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) of acetaminophen in one day (24 hours), as this may increase the risk for serious liver problems. For Tylenol® Extra Strength, the maximum dose is 3,000 milligrams per 24 hours.

You may take this medicine with or without food.

For patients using the oral liquid with syringe (e.g. Little Fevers®):

For patients using the oral liquid with dropper:

For patients using acetaminophen oral granules (e.g., Snaplets-FR):

For patients using acetaminophen oral powders (e.g., Feverall® Sprinkle Caps [Children's or Junior Strength]):

For patients using acetaminophen suppositories:

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep the bottle closed when you are not using it. Store it at room temperature, away from light and heat. Do not freeze.

You may store the suppositories in the refrigerator, but do not freeze them.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child while you are using this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it.

If your symptoms or fever do not improve within a few days or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

Many combination medicines contain acetaminophen, including products with brand names such as Alka-Seltzer Plus®, Comtrex®, Drixoral®, Excedrin Migraine®, Midol®, Sinutab®, Sudafed®, Theraflu®, and Vanquish®. Adding these medicines to the medicine you already take may cause you to get more than a safe amount of acetaminophen. Talk to your doctor before taking more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen.

Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach; pale stools; dark urine; loss of appetite; nausea; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

If you will be taking more than an occasional 1 or 2 doses of acetaminophen, do not drink alcoholic beverages. To do so may increase the chance of liver damage, especially if you drink large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, if you take more acetaminophen than is recommended on the label, or if you take it regularly for a long time.

Acetaminophen may interfere with the results of some medical tests. Before you have any medical tests, tell the person in charge if you have taken acetaminophen within the past 3 or 4 days. You may also call the laboratory ahead of time to find out whether acetaminophen will cause a problem.

Acetaminophen may cause false results with some blood glucose tests. If you are diabetic and notice a change in your test results, or if you have any questions, check with your doctor.

If you think you have taken too much acetaminophen, get emergency help at once, even if there are no signs of poisoning. Treatment to prevent liver damage must be started as soon as possible.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Rare
Bloody or black, tarry stools
bloody or cloudy urine
fever with or without chills (not present before treatment and not caused by the condition being treated)
pain in the lower back and/or side (severe and/or sharp)
pinpoint red spots on the skin
skin rash, hives, or itching
sore throat (not present before treatment and not caused by the condition being treated)
sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
sudden decrease in the amount of urine
unusual bleeding or bruising
unusual tiredness or weakness
yellow eyes or skin

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

Symptoms of overdose
Diarrhea
increased sweating
loss of appetite
nausea or vomiting
stomach cramps or pain
swelling, pain, or tenderness in the upper abdomen or stomach area

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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