Acetaminophen is a medication used to relieve pain and reduce fever. It is part of a class of drugs known as analgesics. Some of the brand names of acetaminophen include Tylenol and Paracetamol.
Acetaminophen is available without a prescription. Most people buy it over the counter at CVS, Walmart, or other retailers. But, there are times when your healthcare professional may prescribe this drug or a narcotic pain medication that contains acetaminophen. It depends on your medical condition.
Users can take acetaminophen by mouth, in drop, powder, or liquid form. There are also chewable and non-chewable tablets.
This article will explain why people take acetaminophen. It will also explain the potential side effects for people taking this medicine. Finally, we will discuss some product liability litigation patients have filed against acetaminophen manufacturers.
- What should I know before taking acetaminophen?
- Does acetaminophen interact with any food or drugs?
- What are the side effects associated with acetaminophen?
- Has there ever been a recall of acetaminophen?
- Can pregnant women take acetaminophen?
- What should I do if I think my injury is the result of using acetaminophen?
It is rare, but some people are allergic to acetaminophen. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some patients develop severe skin conditions after taking acetaminophen. The good news is that most adults learn that they're allergic to the drug early in their lives. It would be unusual to have an allergic reaction to Tylenol or some other analgesic without prior knowledge.
If your doctor knows you have an allergy to acetaminophen and prescribes the drug (or one containing acetaminophen), you may have a claim for medical malpractice. It depends on whether the doctor was negligent and you suffered an actual loss.
Acetaminophen can also interfere with medical test results. Before undergoing any tests, let the lab know if you've taken acetaminophen in the last few days.
Evidence on which foods and drugs interact poorly with acetaminophen differs. Tell your healthcare professional about any prescription and nonprescription medications you take. Also, inform them of any vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you take. This way, they can tell you whether taking acetaminophen is safe.
As with any other medication, do not drink alcoholic beverages. Doing so may increase the chance of liver damage, especially if you drink large amounts of alcoholic beverages regularly or take more acetaminophen than recommended.
There are several side effects associated with acetaminophen. Many of these adverse reactions have nothing to do with a defective product. They are usually due to an allergic reaction.
But, there are side effects of acetaminophen. Some of these include:
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips
- Swelling of the eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
None of these side effects are life-threatening. But, if you have a severe allergy to the drug, you may find yourself in the hospital.
Acetaminophen and liver risk
In recent years, studies have shown that taking acetaminophen in large amounts can lead to liver damage. The FDA warned consumers to take over-the-counter pain relievers carefully to avoid liver damage that can happen with misuse.
You must know the signs of liver disease. Some of these include the following:
- Abnormally yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stools
- Loss of appetite
Because the signs can be like flu symptoms, they may go unnoticed. Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you're taking too much of the drug.
Over the years, there have been several recalls of acetaminophen. This is true for name-brand and store-brand medications. In 2021, the FDA recalled over 200,000 bottles of 500-milligram, extra-strength acetaminophen manufactured by A-S Medical Solutions.
The FDA announced that these bottles of OTC medications did not have the product warning the agency requires for over-the-counter pain relievers.
This warning must include the following information:
- The product can cause liver damage if a customer takes more than the recommended dose
- People can also incur liver damage if they drink alcohol and take the drug
- People allergic to acetaminophen can also develop liver disease
Many people assume that because a drug is available over the counter, it's safe. They don't realize that their use of acetaminophen can be dangerous if they don't follow the safety guidelines and suggested doses offered by the drug manufacturer.
Typically, pregnant women have no issues if they take acetaminophen. More than 70% of all pregnant women in the U.S. regularly take Tylenol and other acetaminophen-based products.
But there are exceptions to the rule. Studies have shown that women who take acetaminophen at any stage of their pregnancy may have children with developmental disabilities.
Some of the specific findings include the following:
- ADHD — Women who took acetaminophen for more than seven days straight during their pregnancy more than doubled the risk of having a child with ADHD.
- Behavioral problems — Many children born to women who took the drug toward the later stages of their pregnancy had a much higher rate of behavioral problems later in life.
- Fertility issues — Male babies whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy had lower testosterone levels. The same was true for girls. Girls born to mothers who took the drug while pregnant had lower egg numbers.
- Language delay — There is evidence that pregnant women who take this medication have children six times more likely to have language delays.
Some patients fear that acetaminophen can increase the chances of their child having Autism spectrum disorder. To date, there is no evidence of this.
Of course, it is hard to prove causation in these situations. Your product liability claim will be challenging because the defendant will argue that some other factor caused the adverse effects on your child.
If you or a loved one have experienced dangerous side effects or unusual medical conditions while using acetaminophen, contact your healthcare professional. Discuss your options with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help protect your rights and tell you how best to proceed.
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