- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is acetaminophen, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for acetaminophen?
- Is acetaminophen available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for acetaminophen?
- What are the side effects of acetaminophen?
- What is the dosage for acetaminophen?
- Is acetaminophen safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about acetaminophen?
What is acetaminophen, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is not known. It may reduce the production of prostaglandins in the brain. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling. Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before a person feels it. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. Specifically, it tells the center to lower the body's temperature when the temperature is elevated. The FDA approved acetaminophen in 1951.
What brand names are available for acetaminophen?
Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain Reliever, Little Fevers Infant Fever/Pain Reliever, PediaCare Single Dose Acetaminophen Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, and others
Is acetaminophen available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes.
Do I need a prescription for acetaminophen?
What are the side effects of acetaminophen?
When used appropriately, side effects with acetaminophen are not common. The most serious side effect is liver damage due to large doses, chronic use or concomitant use with alcohol or other drugs that also damage the liver.
Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of stomach bleeding.
Other important side effects include:
- hypersensitivity reactions and
- serious skin reactions
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.