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What Is Acetaminophen Used For?

How Does Acetaminophen Work?

Even though acetaminophen has been around for quite a while, it is not fully understood exactly how it works. It is known that acetaminophen works differently from any other non-prescription medication. Most other non-prescription pain relievers or fever reducers are NSAIDs. Both NSAIDs and acetaminophen block the body's production of prostaglandins (naturally occurring chemicals that cause inflammation and fever). However, while NSAIDs block prostaglandin production throughout the body, acetaminophen appears to do so just in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It may also work by blocking pain signals from nerves or preventing such signals from forming.

Acetaminophen Use in Children

Acetaminophen is approved to treat fevers and minor aches and pains in children and infants (see Children's Tylenol and Infant Tylenol for more information). Unlike aspirin, acetaminophen can be used in children with chickenpox.

Off-Label Uses for Acetaminophen

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend acetaminophen for something other than the uses discussed in this article. Using acetaminophen to treat migraines is considered an off-label use.
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