Acetaminophen is in a class of medications called analgesics (pain relievers) and anti pyretics (fever reducers). It works by changing the way the body senses pain and by cooling the body.
Uses are as follows:
• relieve mild to moderate pain from headaches,
• muscle aches,
• menstrual periods,
• colds and sore throats,
• reactions to vaccinations (shots),
• To reduce fever.
It may also be used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by the breakdown of the lining of the joints).
In 2009, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S.FDA) decreased the maximum dosage to be consumed at any given time from 1000 mg to 650 mg. Now in 2011, FDA asked manufacturers of prescription combination products containing paracetamol to limit the amount of acetaminophen to no more than 325 mg per tablet or capsule.
In recommended doses, the side effects of paracetamol are mild to non-existent. In contrast to aspirin, it is not a blood thinner i.e. anticoagulant (and thus may be used in patients where coagulation is a worry).Also it does not cause gastric irritation.
Prolonged daily use increases the risk of upper gastrointestinal complications such as stomach bleeding and may cause kidney or liver damage.
This drug may cause side effects.
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
• swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
• difficulty breathing or swallowing
Acetaminophen may cause other side effects.
Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
The toxic dose of paracetamol is highly variable. In adults, single doses above 10 grams or 200 mg/kg of bodyweight, whichever is lower, have a reasonable likelihood of causing toxicity.
Paracetamol hepatotoxicity is, by far, the most common cause of acute liver failure.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
• extreme tiredness
• pain in the upper right part of the stomach
• flu-like symptoms
• yellowing of the skin or eyes
• loss of appetite
• unusual bleeding or bruising
If someone takes more than the recommended dosage, get medical help immediately, even if the person does not have any symptoms.
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