Millions of Americans reach for a bottle of acetaminophen when they have a headache or a body ache – but how much is too much?
Johnson and Johnson’s, the makers of Tylenol, announced recently that they are reducing the recommended daily allowance of the drug acetaminophen (which is found in Tylenol), from 4,000 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams. This is a reduction from eight pills a day to no more than six pills per day of Extra Strength Tylenol.
Even though this is just a precautionary message from the maker of Tylenol, I will be applying these recommendations to my practice and to what I recommend to my patients.
Why the Reduction
Acetaminophen has been linked to liver damage concerns based on overuse of the drug. Though there is no evidence that proper use of acetaminophen will do any harm to your liver, the makers of acetaminophen are making this recommendation for precautionary reasons and to help stave off accidental overdoses.
There are two very important things to keep in mind, the brand name Tylenol has become ubiquitous with the generic name acetaminophen – be careful if you are taking multiple drugs, many over-the-counter pain-killers and cold and flu medicine have acetaminophen in them. Be sure that you don’t exceed 3,000 milligrams of acetaminophen when combining drugs.
Acetaminophen remains a great way to deal with life’s aches and pains. The only change is that dosage is being reduced. If you take acetaminophen regularly, you will need to adjust their intake times. For the casual user to curve the onset of muscle, joint pain, or the occasional headache, the recommended use remains the same.
I always challenge my patients and ask them if they really need to be on a pain reliever, sometimes we lean on pain pills too much or are quick to use them. Keep in mind that minor aches and pains are often a natural post-workout reaction. Simple care, such as stretching or applying ice (with skin protection) to the affected area may be better drug-free alternatives for post-exercise soreness.