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Acetaminophen and Liver Injury: Q & A for Consumers

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Q: How can I safely give acetaminophen to my child?

A: You can safely give acetaminophen to infants, children, and teenagers if you

  • Check the active ingredients in the other medicines that your child is taking (or that your child may take) to make sure they don’t contain the active ingredient acetaminophen. Your child should never be taking more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at a time.
  • Read all the information given by your child’s doctor and follow directions.
  • Read the information on the OTC “Drug Facts” label or on the prescription label and follow directions.
  • Choose the right medicine based on your child’s weight and age. On OTC medicines, the Directions section of the “Drug Facts” label tells you:
    - if the medicine is right for your child
    - how much medicine to give
    - how many hours you must wait before giving another dose
    - when to stop giving acetaminophen and ask a doctor for help

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?