Each year, overdoses of acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol and other
brands) account for more than 56,000 emergency room visits and an
estimated 458 deaths from acute liver failure, reports the March issue
of the Harvard Women's Health Watch. And according to a new
study from the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group,
acetaminophen-related liver failure appears to be on the rise.
at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle found that
between 1998 and 2003, the percentage of acute liver failure cases
attributed to acetaminophen nearly doubled, rising from 28% to 51%.
Compared with study subjects who deliberately overdosed, those who did
so unintentionally were more likely to have been taking two or more
medications containing acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is safe when taken as directed. Problems occur mainly when people take more than they realize. The Harvard Women's Health Watch offers the following tips for avoiding trouble:
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.