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Acetaminophen and Liver Injury: Q & A for Consumers

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If a dose for your child’s weight or age is not listed on the label, or you can’t tell how much to give, ask your pharmacist or doctor what to do.

  • Use the measuring tool that comes with the medicine. It will give the exact dose. If you don’t have the right measuring tool, ask a pharmacist.
  • Don’t use a spoon that’s meant to be used for cooking or eating. A spoon should not be used to measure medicine because it may give the wrong amount.
  • Never give more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen. If you give more, it could harm your child.

Prevent medicine accidents:

  • Keep a record of the medicines you give your child. Write down the dose and time when you give the medicine. This will help everyone who cares for your child know how much medicine your child has had. This will help everyone avoid giving an extra dose by mistake.
  • Keep medicine where it can’t be seen or reached by children and pets; a locked box, cabinet, or closet is best.

Q: What should I do if the pain or fever doesn’t get better after taking acetaminophen as directed?

A: Take the medicine only as directed. Don’t take more. If the medicine doesn’t help you feel better, talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

Q: What should I do if I took too much acetaminophen? What should I do if I gave too much acetaminophen to my child?

A: Don’t wait! Call 9-1-1 or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 right away to find out what to do. The signs or symptoms of liver damage may not be noticeable for hours or even days after taking acetaminophen. By the time you notice changes, the liver damage may be severe and could lead to death.

Q: Where can I get more information on acetaminophen?

A:

  • Talk to a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
  • Visit FDA’s consumer Web pages:

Don’t Overdo It with Acetaminophen (video) 

Safe Use of Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers

A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine

  • Contact the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA.

Or, e-mail questions to FDA at druginfo@fda.hhs.gov

For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/default.htm). 

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