|CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368|
(Paracetamol Poisoning; Acetaminophen Overdose; Paracetamol Overdose)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication. Tylenol is one brand of this medication. Acetaminophen poisoning is an overdose of this medication. It can cause damage to the liver.
The overdose may happen as an accident or an intentional overdose. This can be a serious condition that will need medical care.
Acetaminophen poisoning may occur as a result of 1 large dose or several small overdoses over a long period of time. An overdose of acetaminophen can result from:
Certain chronic diseases can make a person more vulnerable to this type of overdose. For example, people with liver damage can have acetaminophen poisoning at lower doses. Poisoning can also happen if acetaminophen is taken along with other substances that harm the liver, such as alcohol.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase the chance of acetaminophen poisoning include:
At first, a person with acetaminophen poisoning may have no symptoms.
When symptoms develop, they can include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests may be done to:
Treatment options include:
People with low levels of acetaminophen in the blood may only need to be monitored. If symptoms develop or worsen, then other treatments may be started.
Activated charcoal is taken by mouth. The charcoal can help block the absorption of acetaminophen. It will not affect the level of acetaminophen that has already been absorbed into the bloodstream.
N-acetylcysteine is an antidote to acetaminophen poisoning. It can prevent damage to the liver. It may be given by mouth or IV. The earlier this antidote is delivered, the better the outcome will be.
To help reduce your chance of acetaminophen poisoning:
American Association of Poison Control Centers
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Institute for Health Information
Safe Kid—Children's Health & Safety Association
Acetaminophen poisoning. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.
The FDA Acetaminophen Advisory Committee Meeting. What is the future of acetaminophen in the United States? The perspective of a committee member. Clinical Toxicology (Philadelphia). 2009;47(8):784-789.
Ferner RE, Dear JW, Bateman DN. Management of paracetamol poisoning. BMJ. 2011;342:d2218.
Frithsen I, Simpson W. Recognition and management of acute medication poisoning. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(3):316-323.
Lavonas EJ, Reynolds KM, Dart RC. Therapeutic acetaminophen is not associated with liver injury in children: a systematic review. Pediatrics. 2010;126(6):e1430-e1444.
Vassallo S, Khan AN, Howland MA. Use of the Rumack-Matthew nomogram in cases of extended-release acetaminophen toxicity. Ann Intern Med. 1996;125(11):940.
8/8/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: McNeil Consumer Healthcare announces plans for new dosing instructions for Tylenol products. Johnson & Johnson website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 3, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 9/3/2015
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.