Sunday, August 4, 2013

Acetaminophen

What is acetaminophen?

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and a fever reducer.
Acetaminophen is used to treat many conditions such as headache, muscle aches, arthritis, backache, toothaches, colds, and fevers.
Acetaminophen may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information about acetaminophen

There are many brands and forms of acetaminophen available and not all brands are listed on this leaflet.
Do not take more of this medication than is recommended. An overdose of acetaminophen can damage your liver or cause death.
Know the amount of acetaminophen in the specific product you are taking.
Do not take this medication without a doctor's advice if you have ever had alcoholic liver disease (cirrhosis) or if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day. You may not be able to take acetaminophen. Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking acetaminophen.
Do not take more of this medication than is recommended. An overdose of acetaminophen can damage your liver or cause death.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label to see if a medicine contains acetaminophen or APAP.

Before taking acetaminophen

You should not use acetaminophen if you are allergic to it.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take acetaminophen if you have:
  • liver disease; or
  • a history of alcoholism.
Do not take this medication without a doctor's advice if you have ever had alcoholic liver disease (cirrhosis) or if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day. You may not be able to take acetaminophen.
FDA pregnancy category C. Your doctor will determine whether acetaminophen is safe for you to use during pregnancy. Do not use this medicine without the advice of your doctor if you are pregnant. Acetaminophen can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give acetaminophen to a child younger than 2 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I use acetaminophen?

Use acetaminophen exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Do not take more acetaminophen than is recommended. An overdose can damage your liver or cause death.
One acetaminophen pill, suppository, or packet of granules may contain up to 650 mg of acetaminophen. Know the amount of acetaminophen in the specific product you are taking.
Measure the liquid form of acetaminophen with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one. You may need to shake the liquid before each use. Follow the directions on the medicine label.
If you are treating a child, use a pediatric form of acetaminophen. Use only the special dose-measuring dropper or oral syringe that comes with the specific pediatric form you are using. Carefully follow the dosing directions on the medicine label. Acetaminophen made for infants is available in two different dose concentrations, and each concentration comes with its own medicine dropper or oral syringe. These dosing devices are not equal between the different concentrations. Using the wrong device may cause you to give your child an overdose of acetaminophen. Never mix and match dosing devices between infant formulations of acetaminophen. You may need to shake the liquid before each use. Follow the directions on the medicine label.
The chewable tablet must be chewed thoroughly before you swallow it.
Make sure your hands are dry when handling the acetaminophen disintegrating tablet. Place the tablet on your tongue. It will begin to dissolve right away. Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing.
To use the acetaminophen effervescent granules, dissolve one packet of the granules in at least 4 ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. To make sure you get the entire dose, add a little more water to the same glass, swirl gently and drink right away.
Do not take a acetaminophen rectal suppository by mouth. It is for use only in your rectum. Wash your hands before and after inserting the suppository.
Try to empty your bowel and bladder just before using the acetaminophen suppository. Remove the outer wrapper from the suppository before inserting it. Avoid handling the suppository too long or it will melt in your hands.
For best results from the suppository, lie down and insert the suppository pointed tip first into the rectum. Hold in the suppository for a few minutes. It will melt quickly once inserted and you should feel little or no discomfort while holding it in. Avoid using the bathroom just after inserting the suppository.
Stop using acetaminophen and call your doctor if:
  • you still have a fever after 3 days of use;
  • you still have pain after 7 days of use (or 5 days if treating a child);
  • you have a skin rash, ongoing headache, or any redness or swelling; or
  • if your symptoms get worse, or if you have any new symptoms.
Acetaminophen can cause unusual results with certain lab tests for glucose (sugar) in the urine. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using acetaminophen.
Store acetaminophen at room temperature away from heat and moisture. The rectal suppositories can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since acetaminophen is taken as needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are taking the medication regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of acetaminophen can be fatal.
The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and confusion or weakness. Later symptoms may include pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

What should I avoid while taking acetaminophen?

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label to see if a medicine contains acetaminophen or APAP. Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking this medicine.