Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America. It is found in more than 600 different medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines.
When used as directed, acetaminophen is safe and effective. But there is a limit to how much you can take in one day. Taking more acetaminophen than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends taking no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.
Follow three simple steps to use acetaminophen safely:
Never take more medicine than the label says. Taking more acetaminophen than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
It is important to check the active ingredients in all of your medicines to see if they contain acetaminophen.
You can take too much acetaminophen if you use more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking acetaminophen if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks a day, if you have liver disease, or if you take warfarin. You may be at greater risk for liver damage. You should also talk to your healthcare professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking acetaminophen.
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The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world's largest medical library. The Library offers databases and search tools to help identify and learn more about over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Visit the NLM’s DailyMed database.