Acetaminophen FAQs

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Helpful answers to your questions about acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in TYLENOL® products and more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medicines like NyQuil®, Percocet® and Vicodin®. Acetaminophen is used to provide relief from:
 
  • headaches
  • back or muscle aches
  • menstrual periods
  • colds
  • sore throats
  • toothaches
  • the minor pain of arthritis
  • temporarily reduces fever


Medicines with acetaminophen come in many forms: pills, capsules, and liquids. Some of these combine acetaminophen with other ingredients to treat the symptoms of pain, allergies, cold/flu, and trouble sleeping
Yes, acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, but if you take too much, you could harm your liver. Some people accidentally exceed the recommended dose when taking multiple products at the same time because they don’t realize their medicines contain acetaminophen or they didn’t read and follow the dosing instructions. This is why it is important to read and follow the label instructions on your medicines and to take ONLY 1 medicine at a time containing acetaminophen.

To help reduce the risk of accidental acetaminophen overdose, we’ve changed the dosing instructions for Extra Strength TYLENOL®. The updated dosing instructions for Extra Strength TYLENOL® state to take 2 caplets or gelcaps every 6 hours while symptoms last. You should not take more than 6 caplets or gelcaps in 24 hours, unless directed by your healthcare provider. The new dosing instructions reduce the total over-the-counter daily dose from 8 pills per day to 6 pills per day and change the dosing interval from every 4 to 6 hours to every 6 hours. We are working closely with other manufacturers of over-the-counter single-ingredient acetaminophen products to make dosing instructions consistent.

Get the adult dosing instructions >
Yes. You can still use your Extra Strength TYLENOL® products as labeled, if they are not expired.

Learn more about TYLENOL® and acetaminophen >
There are more than 600 medicines that contain acetaminophen. That includes both over-the-counter pain relievers such as TYLENOL® and prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin® and Percocet®. Acetaminophen can also be found in cold/flu medicines like Nyquil® and TheraFlu®, and sleep aids such as Tylenol PM®.

See if your medicines contain acetaminophen >
To find out if your medicine contains acetaminophen, you can:
  • Read the list of ingredients on the Drug Facts Label on the package of each over-the-counter medicine. Learn how to read a medicine label >
  • Read the list of ingredients in the Patient Information leaflet that comes with each prescription product. Look under “Active Ingredients” for the word acetaminophen or abbreviations like APAP.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if your medicine contains acetaminophen.

Always read and follow the labels of all your medicines and remember to take ONLY 1 medicine at a time containing acetaminophen.

See if your medicines contain acetaminophen >
The proper way to take acetaminophen is to always read the label and follow the dosing instructions of every medicine you take, both over-the-counter and prescription. Never take more than the recommended dose, and take ONLY 1 medicine at a time containing acetaminophen.
You shouldn't take acetaminophen if you are allergic to it or any of the other ingredients in the medicine you are considering. Do not use more than one medication containing acetaminophen at the same time, whether over-the-counter or prescription. If you're not sure if a medication contains acetaminophen, ask your healthcare provider. If you have liver disease, are pregnant, breast-feeding or taking the blood-thinning drug warfarin, you should ask your healthcare provider before taking a medicine containing acetaminophen.

See if your medicines contain acetaminophen >
If you think you've taken too much acetaminophen, call your healthcare provider or Poison Control right away (1-800-222-1222). Even if you feel fine or notice any symptoms, quick medical attention is critical for adults and children.

Early symptoms of liver damage may include:
 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite


Sometimes, symptoms of acetaminophen-related overdose don't appear right away. Symptoms of liver damage can take time to become noticeable since they can start off mild or be mistaken for some other illness. In some instances, symptoms can even go away all together, but this doesn't mean that there hasn't been liver damage.

Learn more about acetaminophen and liver damage >
If you think you’ve overdosed on acetaminophen, get medical help or call the Poison Control Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. Quick medical attention is critical for adults and children even if you don't notice any signs or symptoms.
Acetaminophen has been used by parents and healthcare providers for over 50 years to relieve pain and reduce fevers. When used as directed, acetaminophen is safe and effective. Never give adult medicines to children as this can cause serious harm. If more than the recommended amount of acetaminophen is taken, it could harm your liver. That’s why it is important to always read and follow the label and never administer more than the recommended dose – or more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
Yes. Now infants' acetaminophen medicines have the same amount of acetaminophen as children's acetaminophen medicines (160 mg per 5 mL). As always, infants' and children's acetaminophen products will continue to include specially designed dosing devices appropriate to the weight or age of your child.

If you happen to see or have infants’ acetaminophen products with different concentrations of acetaminophen, you should always read and follow the label and ask your child's healthcare provider about how much to give your child.

See the acetaminophen dosing instructions for infants and children >