Want answers about acetaminophen? You've come to the right place. Click on the links below to get answers to commonly asked questions about acetaminophen—the active ingredient in TYLENOL® products.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in many medicines, including all TYLENOL® products and more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Many OTC acetaminophen products are used to reduce fever and treat mild to moderate pain caused by common conditions such as:
- back or muscle aches
- menstrual periods
- sore throats
- the minor pain of arthritis
Acetaminophen-containing products are available in many forms, including pills, capsules, and liquid medicines. Acetaminophen is also included along with other ingredients in combination medicines designed to treat symptoms of allergies, cold and flu, and pain with trouble sleeping.
Yes, acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, but when taken in overdose amounts it can cause liver damage. Some people accidentally exceed the recommended dose when taking multiple products at the same time, often without realizing they contain acetaminophen or by not reading and following the dosing instructions.
We've taken new steps to help reduce the potential for accidental overdose by modifying the dosing instructions for Extra Strength TYLENOL®. The new dosing instructions reduce the maximum daily dose from 8 pills per day to 6 pills per day and change the dosing interval from every 4-6 hours to every 6 hours. These labeling changes will be consistent across all single-ingredient Extra Strength TYLENOL® products and we are working closely with other manufacturers of over-the-counter single-ingredient acetaminophen products to help ensure consistency in dosing instructions.
Yes. You can continue to use your Extra Strength TYLENOL® products as labeled.
Today, more than 600 medicines contain acetaminophen. These include both over-the-counter medicines such as TYLENOL® and Nyquil®, as well as prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin® and Percocet®.
Acetaminophen can also be found, along with other ingredients in combination medicines used to treat common ailments such as coughs and colds and in some prescription pain medications.
To find out if a medicine you are taking contains acetaminophen, you can:
- Read the list of ingredients on the Drug Facts Label as listed on the package of each over-the-counter medicine. LEARN HOW TO READ A DRUG FACTS LABEL >
- Read the list of ingredients in the Patient Information leaflet that comes along with each prescription product. Look for the word "acetaminophen" or the letters "APAP," the abbreviation sometimes used for acetaminophen in prescription medicine.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine you are taking contains acetaminophen.
It is important to always read and follow the label for any medicine you are taking. If you are taking more than one medicine, make sure you read and compare the labels. And remember—never take more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
In order to ensure that you're taking acetaminophen appropriately, always read and follow the label of every medicine you are taking, never take more than the recommended dose, and never take more than one product that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
Do not take acetaminophen if you are allergic to acetaminophen or any of the other ingredients in the medicine you are considering. Do not use more than one medication containing acetaminophen—either over-the-counter or prescription. If you are not sure whether a medication contains acetaminophen, ask your doctor or pharmacist. If you have liver disease, are pregnant or breast-feeding or are on the blood-thinning drug warfarin, ask your doctor before taking an acetaminophen-containing product.
As soon as you realize an overdose of acetaminophen may have occurred, contact your healthcare professional or a Poison Control Center, even if you feel fine or are not experiencing any symptoms. Quick medical attention is critical for adults as well as for children who have taken too much (overdose) acetaminophen—even if you do not notice any signs or symptoms.
Early signs of liver damage may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
It's important to know that the symptoms of liver damage can take time to appear, and can be mild enough to go unnoticed or to be mistaken for other illnesses. In some cases, symptoms may seem to go away quickly—even though liver damage may be occurring.
If you think you have taken an overdose of acetaminophen—get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. Quick medical attention is critical for adults as well as for children who have taken more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen—even if you do not notice any signs or symptoms.
Acetaminophen is a widely used pain reliever and fever reducer for infants and children and is safe and effective when used as directed. Never give adult medicines to children as this can cause serious harm. If more than the recommended amount of acetaminophen is taken, it can cause liver damage. It is important to read and follow the label and never administer more than the recommended dose – or more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
Yes. Infants' TYLENOL® will have the same concentration of the active ingredient, acetaminophen, as Children's TYLENOL® (160 mg per 5 ml). As always, Infants' and Children's TYLENOL® products will continue to include specially designed dosing devices appropriate to the age of the child. There may be a time period when more than one concentration of infants' acetaminophen products may be available in stores and parents and caregivers might have both in their medicine cabinets. Caregivers should be mindful to always read and follow the dosing directions on the package that is being used and consult the child's pediatrician if they have questions.