Acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) is an exceedingly useful pain and fever reducing medication that’s widely available and widely used in both prescription and non-prescription medications. As with virtually all drugs, with the benefits come potential adverse reactions. In the case of Tylenol the biggest risk is of liver damage when too much is taken or when it’s mixed with a great deal of alcohol.
For years the default dose per pill has been 500 mg and the typical recommended amount for adults has been two of these pills every 4-6 hours. However, problems can arise when people unknowingly take too much. Example: someone uses the prescription pain medication Vicodin (each pill of which until recently contained 500 mg of Tylenol) and non-prescription Tylenol and a cold remedy or sleep aid that also contains Tylenol.
Because there’s no evidence that taking two 500 mg tablets of Tylenol is any more effective than taking two 325 mg tablets, we’ve recommended that our patients seek out and use the lower dose, and we’ve been prescribing that lower dose whenever possible.
Now, in what we consider a wise move, the FDA has mandated that prescription pain pills contain no more than 325 mg of Tylenol per pill.
Here’s the bottom line:
- Limit yourself to no more than 4,000 mg of Tylenol per 24 hours, counting all sources. Safer still, especially if using for more than for days, is to consume no more than 3,000 mg per 24 hours.
- Choose 325 mg Tylenol tablets when shopping for non-prescription pain and fever medication.
- Avoid cough, cold and sleep medication that contain Tylenol. They’re never as effective as carefully chosen individual ingredients.
Finally, if you’re a patient of ours we’ve got 100-count bottles of 325 mg generic Tylenol that are yours for the asking.