Acetaminophen is a main component of a lot of commonly used pain-killers. Tylenol#3, Percocet, Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, …. You name it. These are called combination pain-killers because they are made of two or more components. Pain-killers that share a common component are not supposed to be taken together. Well, they frequently are.
Suppose you just had surgery. You were given a prescription for Percocet. You go home, and then, in the middle of the night, you are in pain. You are only supposed to take it at certain times, so you open your medicine cabinet, reach for your Tylenol, and pop two pills. And then you do that several times for the next few days or weeks.
Unknowingly, you probably have exceeded what is considered a safe daily dose of acetaminophen.
For this reason, which happens too often, the Food and Drug Administration recently issued a regulation to decrease the maximum amount of acetaminophen present in combination painkillers to no more than 325 mg. Too much acetaminophen can cause irreversible liver damage. At the same time, taking more than the maximum allowed daily dose does not help reduce the pain any further.
“Acetaminophen overdose is one of the most common poisonings worldwide,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
The maximum recommended for adults at 4,000 milligrams per day. One pill of Tylenol contains 500 mg. A lot of people take two at a time. Do the math and you realize that you can take it no more than four times a day. Take in together with a combination acetaminophen-based medicine puts you well above the maximum allowed.