It might be difficult for someone to spell or even sometimes pronounce the word “acetaminophen”, however, around 50 million people in US, use this word every week to handle fever and pain.
Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America, found in more than 600 different prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. While it is safe and effective when used as directed, there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day; 4000 mg for most adults. Taking more acetaminophen than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
According to the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition, sometimes people may unintentionally exceed the 4000 mg daily dose because they don’t realize that several medicines they take, such as pain medications and fever reducers, cough/cold and allergy medicines, and even some sleep aids, may all contain acetaminophen.
In its report, “Acetaminophen: How It’s Used, Preventing Overdose and What We Can Do to Promote Safe Use,” the Coalition points out three common acetaminophen dosing mistakes:
- Taking the next dose too soon.
- Using multiple acetaminophen-containing medicines at the same time.
- Taking more than the recommended dose at a single time.
Anne Norman, a nurse practitioner at American Association of Nurse Practitioners, a founding organization of AAC, said, “Educating patients is a key step to promoting safe acetaminophen use and preventing overdose. I always tell consumers to be diligent about reading their medicine labels, to know the ingredients in their medicines and to carefully follow dosing directions when taking all medicines.”
So, regardless of the fact that one can spell it or not, while taking a medicine that may possibly contain acetaminophen, the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition recommends people to follow the below mentioned steps for a safer use:
- Always read and follow the medicine label.
- Know if your medicines contain acetaminophen.
- Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time.
- Ask your pharmacist or other healthcare professional if you have questions.