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Acetaminophen Side Effects continued...

Because acetaminophen is an ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription medications, it is important to check your other medicines to avoid an accidental overdose. Certain people may have to take a lower dosage or may not be able to take acetaminophen at all.

In fact, to prevent accidental overdose, the maker of Extra-Strength Tylenol brand acetaminophen has reduced the maximum dose from eight pills (4,000 mg) to six pills (3,000 mg) a day.

Because the signs and symptoms of liver damage from acetaminophen may not be immediately noticeable, if you think you may have taken too much it is important to call 911 or poison control at 1800-222-1222 immediately.

You should not take acetaminophen if you have three or more alcoholic drinks daily or if you have advanced liver disease.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs work similarly to aspirin to ease joint pain. Although there are more than a dozen NSAIDs available by prescription, only two are currently available OTC: ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Ibuprofen is also available in many generic and store-brand products and, like acetaminophen, may be the active ingredient in products labeled "non-aspirin pain relief."

Side Effects of NSAIDs

Use of NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly in higher doses. However, the most common side effects of NSAIDs are heartburn, indigestion, abdominal or stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. You can reduce the risk of side effects by taking the medicine with food or milk.

Other possible side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • swelling of the feet
  • stomach ulcers or GI bleeding
  • headache


When to Avoid NSAIDs

You should not use NSAIDs for pain if you are allergic to aspirin or similar drugs. If you have heart disease, kidney disease, liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, asthma or a history of stomach problems, or if you take blood thinners or a diuretic, ask your doctor before taking NSAIDs. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should ask your doctor before taking naproxen, although ibuprofen is considered safe except during the third trimester of pregnancy.


Choosing an OTC Pain Reliever

What you need to know to make a safe and effective choice.
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