Pain Treatment Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is a popular pain reliever and is found in many common over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol®. However, strong versions of the medicine, such as acetaminophen with codeine, are available by prescription.  Typically, acetaminophen is used to relieve minor aches and pains. Common ailments for which people use acetaminophen include:

  • arthritis
  • common colds
  • headaches
  • low fevers
  • menstrual cramps
  • strained muscles
  • toothaches.

Acetaminophen works with the brain to alter how pain is felt by the body. In its most common form, acetaminophen is taken orally via capsules or tablets or as a liquid.

Acetaminophen to Prevent and Manage Pain

Medical experts recommend taking one acetaminophen capsule or tablet before bed after a strenuous day of physical activity. This can help manage pain that often occurs the following day.Many people with osteoarthritis, the type of arthritis caused by degeneration in the joints, use acetaminophen to manage the pain of the disease. Studies have shown that taking extended release acetaminophen dosages is effective in treating pain in arthritis patients.

Acetaminophen Dosage

Recently, studies have found that people may be consuming more acetaminophen than they realize. Here’s a list of some common over-the-counter pain medications and the amount of acetaminophen they contain:

  • Midol® (Teen Formula): 500 milligrams in one dose
  • NyQuil® (Cold and Flu): 500 milligrams in one dose
  • Tylenol® Arthritis-Strength: 650 milligrams in one dose
  • Tylenol® (Cold and Flu Severe): 1,000 milligrams in one dose
  • Tylenol® Extra-Strength: 500 milligrams in one dose.

The recommended maximum daily dosage of acetaminophen for healthy adults is 4 grams, or 4,000 milligrams. Exceeding this dosage is dangerous, as acetaminophen overdose can lead to liver damage and liver failure.

Therefore, it is extremely important to read the ingredients in any medication you take to look for the levels of acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen Brand Names

You might not even think a medicine you are taking contains acetaminophen. However, there are several products on the market that contain this pain medication, including certain products under the following brands:

  • Benadryl®
  • Excedrin®
  • Midol®
  • Pamprin®
  • Sudafed®
  • Tylenol®.

Acetaminophen Side Effects

Although acetaminophen side effects are rare, people can experience liver damage and even liver failure if they overdose on acetaminophen or if they take it in conjunction with certain medications. Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor before taking acetaminophen. In addition, avoid acetaminophen if you are a chronic alcohol drinker, and never take acetaminophen while consuming alcohol.

Acetaminophen is very effective in treating everyday pains and is even an effective long-term pain management option for people with arthritis. However, since it works so effectively, it can be tempting for a person to take more acetaminophen than necessary. Acetaminophen overdose is a serious problem but can be easily avoided by following the directions for proper dosage.


National Library of Medicine (2007). Acetaminophen. Retrieved August 26, 2007, from the National Institutes of Health Web Site:

No Author (2007). Adverse Reaction; Cancer Patients’ Routine Use of Acetaminophen May Affect Chemotherapy Result. Drug Week of November 10, 2006 (257).

No Author (2007). Arthritis Therapy; Research from University of California Broadens Understanding of Arthritis Therapy. Drug Week of May 4, 2007 (472).

Ogbru, Omudhome (2002). Acetaminophen (Tylenol)- Side Effects, Drug Class, Medical Uses and Drug Interactions. Retrieved August 26, 2007, from the Medicine Net Web site: