Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is an over-the-counter pain reliever that belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics (medications that relieve pain) and antipyretics (medications that reduce fever). It’s generally used for:
- Relieving mild to moderate pain like toothaches, headaches, muscle aches and sore throats.
- Managing fever and reactions to vaccine shots.
- Providing relief from inflammatory conditions.
While Tylenol is a safe drug when used correctly, incorrect dosages can make an infant or child sick.
How do Tylenol dosages differ for infants and children?
In the old formulations, infant Tylenol and children’s Tylenol had different concentrations:
- Infant Tylenol formulation was more concentrated, containing 80 milligrams of acetaminophen in 0.8 milliliters of the liquid. It had to be administered with a dropper.
- Children’s Tylenol was less concentrated with 160 milligrams of acetaminophen in 5 milliliters of the liquid.
Because of these different concentrations and, there used to be a risk of incorrect dosing. Since June 2011, however, both infant and children’s versions of the drug have been standardized to contain 160 milligrams of acetaminophen in 5 milliliters of the liquid.
The design of the bottles has also been changed with the addition of a safety flow restrictor. This reduces the quantity of the medication that may be accidentally consumed by a child.
|Version||Concentration||Measuring device||Bottle design|
|New infant liquid||160 mg/5 mL||Syringe (mL)||Child safety cap flow restrictor|
|Old infant drops||80 mg/0.8 mL||Dropper||Child safety cap|
|Version||Concentration||Measuring device||Bottle design|
|New children’s liquid||160 mg/5 mL||Measuring cup (mL)||Child safety cap flow restrictor|
|Old children’s liquid||160 mg/5 mL||Measuring cup (mL)||Child safety cap|
How to safely give Tylenol to your infant or child
For the safety of your infant or child, make sure to take the following safety measures:
- Keep the medication out of your child’s reach.
- Check the version of the formulation and concentration of the drug before use.
- Follow the instructions on the label or as prescribed by the doctor.
- Use the original measuring device that comes with the package.
- Although Tylenol is available without a physician’s prescription, ask your pediatrician’s advice before giving it to a child under the age of 2.
Are there any side effects of Tylenol?
While Tylenol is generally safe, some of the side effects that can occur include:
- Allergic reactions (such as hives)
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling of the face, lips or tongue and difficulty speaking
If your child has signs of liver problems, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, dark urine, itching or clay-colored stool, talk to your pediatrician before giving them Tylenol.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
RxList. Tylenol. https://www.rxlist.com/tylenol-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm#info
Johnson & Johnson Inc. Acetaminophen Dosage for Infants And Children. https://www.tylenol.ca/safety-dosing/children/for-parents-acetaminophen-dosage-children
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acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
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, headache, minor arthritis pain, back pain, tooth pain, menstrual cramps, PMS, osteoarthritis, common cold, tension headache, chronic pain, hip pain, shoulder and neck pain, sore throat, sinus infection, teething, TMJ, bites and stings, and 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 anemia, kidney damage, thrombocytopenia (a reduced number of platelets in the blood), and liver problems.
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.
Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen for Pain (Differences in Side Effects and Dosage)Acetaminophen (Tylenol and many other brand names is an pain reliever (analgesic) and fever reducer (antipyretic ). Scientists do not know the exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen. Ibuprofen (Advil) is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) used for the treat inflammation, fever, and mild pain. Ibuprofen works in relieving mild pain, inflammation, and fever by blocking an enzyme that makes chemicals released in the body that promote inflammation (prostaglandins). Prostaglandins promote inflammation in the body.
Common side effects of both acetaminophen and ibuprofen include rash, nausea, and headache. Side effects specific to acetaminophen include kidney damage, anemia, thrombocytopenia, serious skin reactions, and liver failure. Side effects of specific to ibuprofen include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, drowsiness, stomach pain, constipation, and heartburn. Dosage depends upon whether the person using acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Aspirin vs. Tylenol (acetaminophen)
Aspirin and Tylenol (acetaminophen) are used to treat fever, and pain in the body. Aspirin is also used to prevent blood clots (antithrombotic). Aspirin and Tylenol belong to different drug classes. Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and Tylenol is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer).
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Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.
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Tylenol Liver DamageTylenol liver damage (acetaminophen) can occur from accidentally ingesting too much acetaminophen, or intentionally. Signs and symptoms of acetaminophen-induced liver damage may include:
- kidney failure,
- bleeding disorders,
- coma, and