1 in 3 Americans — nearly 116 million Americans — suffer from some type of chronic pain. If you are living with chronic pain — be it from back pain, arthritis, headaches, fibromyalgia or a host of other conditions — it is important to know how to use over-the-counter and prescription medicines that contain acetaminophen safely.
Acetaminophen is an ingredient in over 600 different medicines, including many of the pain relievers used to treat chronic pain conditions. It is also found in fever reducers and sleep aids, as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. When used as directed, it is safe and effective. But taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.
Follow three simple steps to use medicines containing acetaminophen safely:
1. Always read and follow the label
Never take more medicine than the label says.
2. Know if your medicines contain acetaminophen
It is important to check the active ingredients in all of your medicines to see if they contain acetaminophen.
3. Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time
You can take too much acetaminophen if you use more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at one time.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking acetaminophen if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks a day, have liver disease, or take warfarin. You may be at greater risk for liver damage. You should also talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking acetaminophen.