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There is something that may be even more dangerous than guns in the house, and the answer will surprise you. It is a substance that is sold by pharmacists, drugstores, and supermarkets across the nation. Every household has it, yet its danger is only now coming to light. What is it? Painkillers. Specifically, painkillers containing acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an ingredient found in Tylenol and other pain-relieving drugs.
PBS news reported that over 1500 deaths can be linked to this pain reliever in the past 10 years. And Poison Control Centers tell us that overdosing on acetaminophen results in about 100,000 calls to their center per year. As well as 458 deaths every year related to liver failure, which is the result of overdosing on this substance. Those numbers—plus 56,000 visits to the emergency room and 2600 hospitalizations—contain a sobering warning.
Why Isn’t the Public Being Warned?
So why hasn’t the public been warned about these terrible side effects? According to DrugLawsuitSource.com, “Most of the time these companies put their profits over people and do whatever is necessary to keep their drugs on the store shelves.”
In 2009, the FDA mandated that a warning on possible liver damage be added to drug labels. But this hasn’t been effective enough in creating public awareness of the dangers of an overdose. The problem, it seems, stems from the slim margin between what is considered a “safe” maximum dosage and what could result in liver damage.
Outside of warnings on labels, because this drug is a common household supply, there needs to be more coverage on its possible ill side effects. In January 2016, the FDA issued a statement that is in line with this thinking. They urged medical professionals to stop prescribing drugs that contain over 325 mgs of acetaminophen.
How to Protect Your Family and Safely Take Painkillers
All this news could make you think twice about ever taking acetaminophen painkillers again. Or at least limiting their dosage and the amount that you give to your family.
This is not a bad move to make. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Good intentions often fly out the window when faced with a debilitating headache or toothache. Or when your child is in pain. In such cases, here are 4 tips that you should remember, which will keep you and yours protected.
1. 325mg is the hard limit. According to the FDA, taking more than 325 mg of acetaminophen is asking for liver damage. All dosages of this pain reliever should most definitely stay well under this amount. Think of this amount as a red line boundary you should not approach.
2. Somewhat related to the above point, avoid taking more than one acetaminophen drug at the same time. If both drugs contain acetaminophen, you could be unknowingly surpassing the 325mg boundary. If you do need to take both drugs that contain this ingredient, find out how much acetaminophen one dosage of each drug has. So you can calculate your total and make sure it is under 325mg.
3. Stay within recommended limits. Read the instructions on the bottle, and follow them. Do not go over the recommended limits for the period of time that is suggested. If the drug proposes 2 pills per 24 hour cycle, stick with that recommendation. Going over the recommended limits is how poisoning occurs.
4. Avoid alcohol when you are taking acetaminophen. It is not just your liver that could be at risk. Taking a painkiller containing this drug after a night out increases your chance of kidney problems. Go the natural route when at all possible. Hydrate. Sleep. Once the alcohol has worn off, it should be safe to take a pain reliever once again.
Also, it never hurts to ask your family doctor what the recommended limits should be for your specific case, or for your partner or children. Every person’s medical history is different and you or someone you care about might be more sensitive than most.