We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Acetaminophen?

By Deneatra Harmon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

One of the most common types of medication, acetaminophen comes in two categories: analgesics and antipyretics. Analgesics help to ease the pain that is associated with having pain such as a headache, backache, toothache, muscle tension or soreness, menstrual cramps or sore throat. Antipyretics, on the other hand, help to reduce fever along with other common cold symptoms. Acetaminophen can be taken orally in a variety of forms, such as tablets made from white crystalline powder, coated capsules and liquid, and it usually can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies and big-box retailers. In some cases, doctors might prescribe acetaminophen to treat pain that sometimes results from surgery.

Appropriate dosage amounts for this medicine vary depending on the person's age, symptoms and overall health. For instance, doctors warn anyone with liver disease not to use acetaminophen, because the chemicals in it cause an adverse reaction in liver cells and can lead to damage. Typically, most brands instruct adults and children age 12 and older to take two capsules or tablets every four to six hours. One single dose ranges from 250 milligrams to the 650 milligrams often found in extra-strength acetaminophen.

Overall, the recommended amount in a single day ranges 325 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams, depending on the severity of symptoms. No more than five to eight pills within a 24-hour period are recommended. To follow safety guidelines, adults must read the package instructions carefully, because directions and dosages will vary by brand.

Dosage amounts differ significantly for infants and other children younger than 12 years old. Preferred forms for babies and young children include drops, liquid and chewable tablets, all of which are deemed effective in preventing accidental overdose. Dosage amounts will differ according to the age and weight of the child.

The packaging of acetaminophen for infants and young children often features a chart with ages and weights to guide parents in giving safe dosages. One pitfall of the chart, however, is that it might not present an accurate dosage based on weight, because every child is different. Therefore, it is best for parents to seek the advice of a doctor or a pharmacist when in doubt about how to treat their child's symptoms.

Although acetaminophen best serves as a pain reliever, fever reducer and muscle relaxer, it poses some serious side effects and health risks. Rare allergic reactions also might be the cause of acetaminophen side effects. Symptoms that require immediate medical treatment include respiratory difficulty, hives, rash and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.

In the worst cases, liver damage might result from acetaminophen overdose. Adults can prevent such complications by avoiding prescription or over-the-counter acetaminophen while taking other medications, as these might already contain acetaminophen with decongestants or other drugs. Also, drinking alcohol while taking acetaminophen is highly discouraged, because it can aggravate the liver and cause stomach bleeding.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources

Discussion Comments

By ivanka — On May 27, 2011

Anybody with liver problems, or heavy alcohol drinkers should be very careful about taking this medication because of acetaminophen's toxicity to the liver.

Very often a medication might have the abbreviated version of this ingredient listed, APAP. If that is the case you know that acetaminophen is one of the active ingredients in that particular medication.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.