Precautions and Warnings With Acetaminophen

There are a number of important acetaminophen warnings and precautions to be aware of, including potential side effects or complications that may occur with the drug. You should know that acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Other serious problems may also occur, especially in people who have G6PD deficiency. You should not take acetaminophen if you are allergic to any components of the drug.

(In November 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved an intravenous form of acetaminophen. For information on this product, see Ofirmev.)
 

Acetaminophen: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®) if you have:
 
  • Liver disease, such as cirrhosis, liver failure, or hepatitis
  • G6PD deficiency
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you:
 
  • Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Drink alcohol regularly.
     
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Warnings and Precautions for Acetaminophen

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking acetaminophen include the following:
 
  • Acetaminophen can damage the liver. Therefore, if you already have liver problems, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking this drug.
     
  • If you drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day, your body may not handle acetaminophen as well as it should. This means that you may develop acetaminophen toxicity at lower dosages than normal. Do not take this drug without talking to your healthcare provider (see Tylenol and Alcohol).
     
  • Acetaminophen can interact with other medications (see Drug Interactions With Acetaminophen for more information).
     
  • You should not treat yourself for a fever for more than three days or pain for more than ten days. You may have a serious problem that requires medical attention. Also, contact your healthcare provider if your pain or fever gets worse or if swelling is present.
     
  • Acetaminophen may increase the risk of serious problems in people with G6PD deficiency (a low amount of a certain enzyme in the body). If you have a G6PD deficiency, do not take this drug without your healthcare provider's approval.
     
  • Some people who are allergic to salicylates (such as aspirin) may also be allergic to acetaminophen. However, many people with such allergies can take acetaminophen without any problems.
     
  • Acetaminophen is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy (see Tylenol and Pregnancy).
     
  • Acetaminophen passes through breast milk. However, it is generally considered safe for breastfeeding women and their infants (see Tylenol and Breastfeeding).
     
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