Acetaminophen (Panadol, Tylenol) is an analgesic (pain reliever) and an antipyretic (fever reducing), but unlike Aspirin, it is not an anti-inflammatory (swelling reducing) drug. Acetaminophen does not belong to the class of NSAID.
Acetaminophen is used to treat mild to moderate pain ranging from headache, back pain and menstrual pain to osteoarthritis. It may also be prescribed in combination with opioids for additive effects to treat severe pain.
Acetaminophen reduces fever by blocking the production and release of certain chemicals (prostaglandins) in the hypothalamus region of the brain.
Acetaminophen comes in different forms: Liquid, parenteral (IV/injection) and tablets. The tablet form of acetaminophen could also come as chewable (rapid-release), extended release, effervescent or regular form.
The extended-release form of acetaminophen tablet should never be crushed. Doing so can precipitate unwanted side effects.
The effervescent tablet form should be dissolved in the required amount of water – When dissolved, carbon dioxide is released.
Acetaminophen, like other type of pain medication works best when it is administered the moment a sign of pain is noticed. Waiting too long before using pain med may complicate the pain and reduce its effectiveness.
Acetaminophen is prescribed by weight and age. Dosages are available for children as well as adult. It may be found over the counter, but it is best to let your Doctor know you are taking acetaminophen. You should also talk to your Doctor if your symptom does not resolve or if it gets worse.
Given at high doses, acetaminophen is hepatotoxic (damaging to the liver). It can cause fatal hepatic necrosis. American Liver Foundation recommends 3 g/24 hours.