The main ingredient in Tylenol, which is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, is acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in other medications including the prescription medications Percocet and Vicodin, as well as over-the-counter medications NyQuil and some Sudafed products. Acetaminophen appears in more than 600 products.
More than 50 milion Americans use acetaminophen on a weekly basis. Since acetaminophen is present in many different products, consumers may take more acetaminophen than prescribed or intended when using multiple products, without realizing how much acetaminophen they are ingesting. Overuse or misuse of acetaminophen is the number one cause of liver failure. Acetaminophen overdoses cause about 200 deaths in the United States every year and are responsible for about 56,000 emergency room visits annually.
Symptoms Of Liver Failure
The early symptoms of liver failure, which are also symptoms of other ailments, include nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, sweating, fatigue, and diarrhea, and later symptoms may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes), unusual bleeding or bruising, bleeding easily, swollen abdomen, mental disorientaion or confusion, sleepiness, and coma. If left untreated, liver failure may lead to death.
Other causes of liver failure in addition to overuse of acetaminophen include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, long term alcohol consumption, cirrhosis, malnutrition, and ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms.
If acute liver failure due to ingestion of too much acetaminophen is treated early enough, the effects may be reversed. If not, a liver transplant may be necessary.
Under new dosing instructions announced on July 28, 2011 that will be effective in the Fall of 2011, the maximum daily dose of Extra Strength Tylenol will be reduced from a maximum of 8 pills daily (a total of 4,000 milligrams) to 6 pills daily (a total of 3,000 milligrams). In 2012, the maximum daily dose for regular strengh Tylenol willl also be reduced.
(In January, 2011, the FDA requested that manufacturers of products containing acetaminophen limit the amount of acetaminophen to 325 milligrams per pill and that a boxed warning be placed on all packaging).
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