Acetaminophen: The Liver Killer You Take for Pain

acetaminophen, liver killer, liver, pain

Acetaminophen is a common component of a type of pain killers called non-opiod analgesics, used to help treat common pain levels. Although acetaminophen has been proven to be harmless when taken in small doses, the Food and Drug Administration has recently warned doctors to not prescribe to their patients drugs with more 325 milligrams of this substance. The reason, this pain reliever can be a liver killer if not taken properly.

Acetaminophen is commonly metabolized in the user’s live. The human body turns it into a nontoxic substance and then gets rid of it through urine. Now the FDA is reporting that the liver can be damaged after taking only four or five extra-strength pills in any 24 hour period.

An especially dangerous side to acetaminophen is that it is commonly used to help relieve hangovers and this may be an instance where the chance of liver damage is increased. Since it is metabolized in your liver your body needs glutathione to properly handle the substance. Unfortunately, after excessive drinking, as well as unhealthy dieting or fasting, your body may have low levels of glutathione. When this is the case acetaminophen is usually turned into a more toxic substance that is harmful to the body’s liver.

It is also scary because if someone takes acetaminophen with even a small amount of alcohol in their body, they will increase the chance of having kidney disease by 123 percent.

Back in April of 2009 the FDA required drug manufacturers to provide a new label to products that contained this substance. Now the FDA says pills with more than 325 milligrams can become a damaging killer to the liver because they are often misused.

Researchers are worried because they believe it is difficult for patients to know how much they have taken and to refrain from taking too much. That is the main reason they have suggested doctors to not prescribe any medication with more than 325 milligrams. The recommended daily usage is 4,000 milligrams and doctors are worried that by taking over the counter extra strength pain relievers patients will get to this mark much quicker then they expected because one Extra Strength Tylenol has 500 mg.

Another thing for patients to keep in mind is that the component acetaminophen does not help with muscle inflammation. It is great for headaches, fevers and minor aches but any injuries that involve swelling or trauma to a body part are largely unaffected by acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen is most commonly found in Tylenol, but researchers want you to know it is in a variety of other medications. It is in most opiods and prescription pain medications as well as in commonly used, over the counter products like Sudafed, Excedrin and Robitussen.

FDA officials remain optimistic about the use of acetaminophen in mild forms. They believe that a healthy liver can handle a normal dosage of this substance with no adverse health side effects. Researchers do want doctors to stop prescribing pills with a large amount of acetaminophen and for patients to take a closer look at just how much of this pain killer, which can be a liver killer, they are putting into their body every day.

By Nick Manai