Acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) is an exceedingly useful pain and fever reducing medication that’s widely available and widely used in a variety of 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 for pain. Maybe they also take a cold remedy or sleep aid that also contains the pain reliever, putting them way over the recommended daily dose.
There’s no evidence that taking two 500 mg tablets of Tylenol is any more effective than taking two 325 mg tablets. As a result we’ve recommended that our patients use the lower dose, which we’ve been prescribing 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 four 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 medications 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.