- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is acetaminophen? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Do I need a prescription for acetaminophen?
- What are the side effects of acetaminophen?
- What is the dosage of acetaminophen for children and adults?
- What brand names are available for acetaminophen?
- Is acetaminophen safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about acetaminophen?
What is acetaminophen? 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.
Do I need a prescription for acetaminophen?
What are the side effects of acetaminophen?
When used appropriately, side effects with acetaminophen are not common.
Other important side effects include:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Serious skin reactions
- Kidney damage
- Reduced number of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia)
Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of stomach bleeding. 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.
What is the dosage of acetaminophen for children and adults?
- The dose for adults is 325 to 650 mg every 4 hours or 500 mg every 8 hours when using immediate release formulations.
- The dose for extended release caplet is 1300 mg every 8 hours.
- The maximum daily dose is 4 grams.
- The oral dose for a child is based on the child's age and weight.
- If less than 12 years old the dosing is 10-15 mg/kg every 6-8 hours not to exceed 2.6 g/day (5 doses).
- If older than 12 years of age the dose is 40-60 mg/kg/day every 6 hours not to exceed 3.75 g/day (5 doses).
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
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, Infants's Feverall, Acephen, Neopap, and others.
Is acetaminophen safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about acetaminophen?
What preparations of acetaminophen are available?
- Solution/suspension: 160 mg/5 ml
- Liquid: 500 mg/ml
- Chewable tablets: 80, 160 m
- Tablet (disintegrating) 80, 160 mg
- Caplets: 325, 500, 650 mg
- Caplet (extended release): 650 mg
- Gelcaps: 500 mg
- Geltabs: 500 mg
- Suppository: 80, 120, 325, 650 mg
How should I keep acetaminophen stored?
Tablets and solutions should be stored at room temperature 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). Suppositories should be refrigerated between 2 C and 27 C (35 F and 80 F).
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Acetaminophen is a drug that reduces fever and relieves pain. It is available alone, or in combination with hundreds of other drugs available both over-the-counter (without a prescription) or that that may require a prescription from your doctor, for example, acetaminophen and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco) or acetaminophen and oxycodone (Percocet). Acetaminophen treats a variety of diseases or other medical problems that cause pain or fever. Examples of conditions acetaminophen treats include:
- Back pain
- Minor arthritis pain
- Tooth pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Common cold
- Tension headache
- Chronic pain
- Hip pain
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Sore throat
- Sinus infection
- Bug bites and stings
- Sprains and strains
Acetaminophen generally has no side effects when taken as prescribed. When
side effects are experienced, the most common are headache, rash, and nausea.
In 2014, the FDA recommended that doctors and other health care professionals only prescribe acetaminophen in doses of 325 mg or less. This warning highlights the potential for allergic reactions, for example, face, mouth, and throat swelling, difficulty breathing, itching, or rash. This action also will help reduce the risk of severe liver injury and serious allergic reactions associated with this drug. Other possible serious side effects adverse effects include:
Other patient information.
- Do not take more than one product that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
- Do not take more than one acetaminophen-containing drug than directed.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking medicine that contains acetaminophen due to severe liver damage.
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.
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Treatment & Diagnosis
- Toe Pain
- Rectal Pain
- Buttock Pain
- Hand Pain
- Wrist Pain
- Joint Pain
- Ankle Pain
- Arm Pain
- Jaw Pain
- Hip Pain
- Sore Tongue
- Shoulder Pain
- Swollen Ankles and/or Swollen Feet
- Joint Cracking (Joint Popping)
- Foot Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Elbow Pain
- Painful Gums
- Joint Stiffness
- Knee Pain
- Groin Pain
- Neck Pain (Cervicalgia)
- Heel Pain
- Menstrual Cramps
- Swollen Joints
- Unsteady Gait
- Joint Redness
- Kidney Stone
- Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
- Chronic Sore Throat
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Chronic Pain
- Common Cold
- Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono)
- Joint Deformity
- Upper Respiratory Infection
- Zika Virus Infection
- Measles (Rubeola)
- West Nile Virus
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Enterovirus (Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection)
- Cold & Flu FAQs
- Headaches FAQs
- Back Pain FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- Chickenpox FAQs
- Strep Streptococcal Throat Infection FAQs
- Home Remedies, Treatment, and Prevention of Sprains and Strains
- Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Home Remedies for Shingles
- When to Call the Doctor for Fever, Nausea, Diarrhea, Colds, and Coughs
- Bug Bite Treatment
- Pain Relievers and High Blood Pressure
- Osteoarthritis of the Hands
- Prescriptions: Complying with the Doctor's Orders
- Drug Interactions: Know Ingredients, Consult Your Physician
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- What to Do in a Drug Recall
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Pain (Acute and Chronic)
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Kidney Infection in Pregnancy
- Michael Jackson's Death: propofol (Diprivan) FAQ
- Swine Flu: One New York City Pediatrician's View
- Swine Flu Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Vaccination
- Pain Management Over-The-Counter
- Tylenol Toxicity
Medications & Supplements
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen, Roxicet, Tylox, Oxycet)
- Drug Interactions
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen, Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Vicodin HP, Anexsia, Lortab, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, No
- tramadol and acetaminophen, Ultracet
- OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers
- propoxyphene and acetaminophen, Darvocet A500; Darvocet-N, Wygesic
- Dilaudid vs. Percocet for Pain
- hyaluronate (hyaluronan, Hyalgan, Supartz, Euflexxa, Orthovisc)
- teriflunomide (Aubagio)
- dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
Prevention & Wellness
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Unecessary Opioids, Study Finds
- Medication Mistakes Have Doubled in U.S. Since 2000: Study
- When Is an Opioid Safe to Take?
- Marathon Running May Cause Short-Term Kidney Injury
- Fewer U.S. Kids Overdosing on Opioids
- Spring-Clean Your Medicine Cabinet to Safeguard Your Kids
- Kids' OD Risk Rises When Opioids Left Out at Home
- Try Drug-Free Options First for Low Back Pain, New Guidelines Say
- Common Painkillers Don't Ease Back Pain, Study Finds
- Kids Born to Opioid-Addicted Moms Seem to Fare Poorly in School
- Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey
- Everyday Pain Relievers May Be Linked to Hearing Loss in Some Women
- Drug Use by U.S. Teens Drops to All-Time Low
- Self-Harm a Cause of Death During Pregnancy and for New Moms
- Number of Americans With Severe Joint Pain Keeps Rising
- Countless Opioid Pills Unused by Dental-Surgery Patients
- Nanoparticles Ease Aching Joints in Mice
- Codeine Not Safe for Kids, Pediatricians Warn
- Health Tip: Preparing for Baby's First Teeth
- Non-addictive Painkiller Shows Promise in Animal Trials
- Kids With Mild Asthma Can Take Acetaminophen: Study
- Acetaminophen and Pregnancy: Bad Mix?
- Acetaminophen During Pregnancy May Up Risk of ADHD in Kids
- Fentanyl-Laced 'Norco' Is Lethal, Report Warns
- New Guidelines Issued for Cancer Patients' Post-Treatment Pain
- Opioid Abusers Missing Out on Addiction-Fighting Drug
- Tai Chi: Rx for Arthritic Knees
- Health Tip: Watch Medication Use During Pregnancy
- More People Surviving Sudden Liver Failure
- Nearly All U.S. Doctors 'Overprescribe' Addictive Narcotic Painkillers: Survey
- Infant Ear Infections Becoming Less Common
- Acetaminophen Won't Help Arthritis Pain, Study Finds
- Health Tip: Managing a Fever at Home
- Prenatal Acetaminophen Use Tied to Higher Asthma Risk in Kids: Study
- Many Chronic Pain Sufferers May Overuse Nonprescription Painkillers
- No Antibiotics for Common Respiratory Infections: Experts
- Acetaminophen Tops List of Accidental Infant Poisonings
- Did Painkiller Crackdown Cause Heroin Epidemic?
- Try Home Remedies for Child's Cough or Cold
- Hawaii Facing Rise in Dengue Fever Cases
- Prepare Yourself for Cold, Flu Season
- Prescription Naproxen as Good as Narcotic Painkillers for Low Back Pain: Study
- Kids' ER Visits for Medicine Overdoses Dropping: Report
- Searing Heat, High Humidity a Threat to Your Health
- Prescription Meds: Too Common in Pregnancy?
- Antidepressant, Painkiller Combo May Raise Risk of Brain Bleed
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Narcotic Painkillers, Barbiturates
- Do Certain Medicines Raise Murder Risk?
- Many Americans Under 50 Living With Cold Sore Virus
- Teens With History of Self-Poisoning Face Greater Suicide Risk
- Could Taking Acetaminophen Dull Your Happiness?
- Ear Infections Common, But Often Missed, in Infants
- Study Casts Doubt on Acetaminophen for Low Back Pain, Arthritis
- Health Tip: Don't Mix Meds and Alcohol
- Does Long-Term Acetaminophen Use Raise Health Risks?
- Morphine After Tonsillectomy Tied to Breathing Problems in Study
- Study Rates Migraine Medications
- Tips for Steering Clear of Flu
- Knee Arthritis Drugs Beat Placebos, but Study Finds No Clear Winner
- No Link Between Acetaminophen in Pregnancy, Asthma in Kids: Study
- Some Painkillers Tied to Bleeding Risk in Those With Abnormal Heartbeat
- Placebo Treatment May Quiet Kids' Cough
- Circumcision Past Newborn Stage Poses Risk for Boys, Study Finds
- Doctors' Group Issues Painkiller Guidelines
- Kids Prescribed Antibiotics Twice as Often as Needed, Study Finds
- Acetaminophen May Not Help Against Back Pain, Study Contends
- Tips for Beating BBQ Burns
- Chikungunya Virus: Questions and Answers
- Use Prescription Painkillers Safely
- Taking Blood Thinners With Certain Painkillers May Raise Bleeding Risk
- More ERs Treating Headaches With Narcotics, Study Finds
- Use of Tylenol in Pregnancy Tied to Higher ADHD Risk in Child
- Daily Aspirin May Guard Against Ovarian Cancer
- Hand Washing, Zinc May Ward Off Colds: Review
- Health Tip: Coping With Strep Throat
- FDA Warns Against Prescription Drugs With High Levels of Acetaminophen
- Health Tip: Don't Take Too Much Acetaminophen
- Health Tip: Keep a First Aid Kit in the Car
- Acetaminophen and Alcohol a Bad Mix, Study Suggests
- Tylenol and Alcohol a Bad Mix, Study Suggests
- FDA OKs New Hydrocodone Painkiller
- After Tonsillectomy, Over-the-Counter Painkillers Suffice, Study Says
- Weight-Loss Surgery May Add to Painkiller Dependence, Study Says
- Opioids Not Winning the Battle Against Pain, Study Suggests
- Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2013
- Most Medications OK During Breast-Feeding, Report Says
- FDA Warns of Rare Skin Reactions to Acetaminophen
- Docs Order Too Many Narcotics, Pricey Scans for Back Pain: Study
- Tylenol-Induced Liver Failure Presents Own Set of Problems: Study
- Most Pregnant Women Treated for Migraines Able to Deliver Vaginally
- Daily Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk for Deadly Skin Cancer in Women
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Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
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Back Pain QuizThere are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge of symptoms, treatments, problems, and reasons for common back pain.
Canker sores are a common complaint, and are small ulcers on the inside of the mouth. Canker sores aren't contagious (as opposed to cold sores), and typically last for 10-14 days usually healing without scarring. A variety of things cause canker sores, for example:
- Medications (aspirin, beta blockers, NSAIDs, high blood pressure medication, and antibiotics)
- Injury to the mouth from dental work, braces, or sports accidents
- Acidic foods
- Diseases or conditions like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and lupus
Canker sores can be cure with home remedies, and prescription and OTC topical and oral medication.
Dengue FeverDengue fever is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms and signs of dengue include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, rash, and swollen glands. Since dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine to treat it. Treatment instead focuses on relieving the symptoms.
Dental ImplantsDental implants are replacement tooth roots that are anchored into the jawbone in order to secure and provide a foundation for replacement teeth. Implants look and feel like your own teeth, and they become permanent because they are designed to fuse with bone. Dental implants require the same care as reel teeth.
Fixed Drug Eruption PictureA large red-violet plaque on the arm of a child. See a picture of Fixed Drug Eruption and learn more about the health topic.
HeadacheHeadaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Headaches QuizIf you're plagued with headaches, our Headaches Quiz may help you identify causes, triggers, symptoms, and treatments for headache pain caused by different types of headaches such as migraines, sinus, cluster, tension, or stress.
Kidney pain has a variety of causes and symptoms. Infection, injury, trauma, bleeding disorders, kidney stones, and less common conditions may lead to kidney pain. Symptoms associated with kidney pain may include:
- Flank pain
- Painful urination
Treatment of kidney pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Liver Blood TestsAn initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as:
- high cholesterol or triglycerides,
- blood flow obstruction to the liver, and
- toxins (medications and chemicals).
- upper right abdominal pain, and
Mohs SurgeryMohs micrographic surgery is a method of removing skin cancers with a local anesthetic. During the procedure, small layers of skin are removed and examined under a microscope until the skin samples indicate that all the cancer has been removed.
Take the Pain QuizIs pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we call pain.
Reasons You're in PainExamine the varying causes of pain. Pain may be caused by simple, everyday objects, tasks and activities such as the way you sit, wear your hair, what you eat and many other surprising reasons you are in pain.
RA SlideshowWhat is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Kids' Skin ProblemsWhat are the most common skin rashes in children? Learn about childhood eczema, ring worm, chicken pox and more. Get the facts on treatment for childhood skin problems.
Sore Throat SlideshowExplore the types and causes of a sore throat through pictures, including strep throat, and learn how to find relief from that raw, scratchy feeling.
TonsillectomyTonsillectomy is the surgical removal of both tonsils. A tonsillectomy may be performed in cases of recurrent tonsillitis, or treat sleep apnea and some speech disorders.
Trigger Point InjectionTrigger point injection (TPI) treats knots of muscles that form when muscles don't relax. During the procedure, a needle containing anesthetic and/or corticosteroid is inserted into the trigger point. TPI may be used to treat fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and tension headaches.