If it weren’t for the extreme profitability of pharmaceutical products and the fact that their manufacturers hold such a strong influence over the FDA, many dangerous drugs would have been banned and pulled from the marketplace long ago.
Tylenol is a brand name for acetaminophen. However, acetaminophen is found in so many over the counter as well as prescription narcotic pain relievers. Taking acetaminophen as directed, without alcohol, is not a danger by itself. The problem is that so many products contain acetaminophen and when taking more than the recommended dose it can be deadly. Acetominophen accounts for 100,000 calls to poison control centers, 56,000 emergency visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths annually. Talk about a headache!
Over-use or overdose of acetaminophen causes liver damage, leading to the need for liver transplant. The recommended adult dose is 4,000 mg/24 hour period (or 8 extra strength tablets). Acetominophen is commonly used in cold and flu medicines such as Theraflu, Alka Seltzer Plus Cold, Nyquil, Excedrin, Coricidin Cold Flu, sleeping aids, narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet, over-the-counter headache medicines, menstrual cramp medications, etc. So if you take one of these and also take acetaminophen tablets, the combination can lead to liver damage. Alcohol consumption is a proven factor in liver damage or cirrhosis.
Mixing alcohol with acetaminophen can be fatal. The liver cannot rid itself of these toxins. It is not recommended to take acetaminophen or NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatories) while consuming more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day. A Florida man was awarded an $8 million settlement due to failure of his doctor to warn of the risks of drinking wine with dinner and taking his daily Tylenol. Also, taking acetaminophen on an empty stomach can cause acetaminophen toxicity. This kills 100 people/year. Toxicity can occur when your liver cannot process the drug quickly enough. A healthy liver produces enzymes that counteract the poisons (acetaminophen), but without food and nutrition, the liver cannot produce these enzymes, leaving us with toxicity or acetaminophen overdose including vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellow skin). If jaundice is present, seek emergency care.
If you use acetaminophen for fever, flu, headaches, backaches, PMS relief, menstrual cramps or muscle and joint pain, you should rethink how much and how often you consume it. Drug maker McNeil (manufacturer of Tylenol brand acetaminophen) plans on capping the recommended daily dose at 3,000 mg (6 extra strength tablets/day) from 4,000 mg/day. Overuse can cause liver damage or failure. Liver damage can occur from lower doses of acetaminophen in alcohol users, or in patients taking other drugs containing acetaminophen.
Acetominophen liver damage is serious and you may not even realize it until it is too late to reverse. This damage takes time to appear. The symptoms of liver damage/failure can be mistaken for the flu with symptoms of loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. You cannot live without a functioning liver. Acetominophen overdose is the #1 cause of acute liver failure in the U.S.
You must read all labels on all medications. Just because a doctor tells you acetaminophen is safe, you must be aware that taken in addition to other medications and/or with alcohol is very serious. Doctors do not warn against all the dangers of this drug.
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