Friday, April 14, 2006

Is acetaminophen a killah?

…Taking too much Tylenol (or Excedrin, Midol, Theraflu and bunch of other OTCs) can stop your pain forever under some circumstances.

…Some docs tracked 662 consecutive patients who showed up in severe liver failure at 23 transplant centers between 1998 and 2003.

…Acetaminophen was to blame in nearly half these cases. In 1998, that was only 28%. Yes, some were from deliberate overdoses of the stuff.

…Sometimes the patients had only been taking it a few days, say for the aches and pains of flu, augmented by Theraflu. They also were not eating much. Combining or losing track, they often were taking 6 grams a day.

…You can’t pop these in like popcorn. A recommended daily dose for an adult is 4 grams a day. Each Extra Strength Tylenol is 500, each Arthritis Strength 650.

…Time to crank out the warning labels?

…Acetaminophen is supposedly so safe. Even liver patients are given a dose of 2 grams or less for aches and pains.

…But if you creep up to 6 or 8 grams, are stressed by a virus, taking other medication or drinking a few jolts of wine, the combo can turn deadly.

…Acetaminophen is also contained in opiates such as vicodin and Percocet.

…When taken over long periods in increasing doses, the acetaminophen can cause more problems than the opiates.

…The patient may be fine for awhile, then the body may say, “I don’t think so, bunky” later.

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