Something in Your Medicine Cabinet Has Killed 1,500 People

Horrifying 20

pillsI am not one to just suffer through aches -- whether that be a headache, sore muscles, or period pain. Needless to say, I keep my medicine cabinet stocked with over-the-counter pain relievers. I know I'm not alone. Well, a new report gives me pause about my (totally legal) pill-popping habit. In the last decade, 1,500 Americans have accidentally died after taking too much acetaminophen -- the active ingredient in Tylenol. It's considered safe at the recommended dosage, but many people take more than the bottle suggests. Of course, too much of anything can be bad for you and cause problems. But death from OTC meds is a scary thought. Especially since you don't have to down the entire bottle to put your life in danger. 

It's especially dangerous when taken with alcohol. But in general, too much of it can damage the liver. Studies reportedly show that there is a thin line between the amount of acetaminophen that helps and the amount that makes it deadly. They offered up the example of a 12-year-old dirt biker rider, a 5-month-old baby, and a fit 23-year-old construction worker. It seems as though the dangers can affect any age, any person. 

Now some groups are calling for better warnings on product labels and stricter dosage rules. In other countries, like England and Switzerland, there is a limit to how much a consumer can buy at a time but there aren't any restrictions like that in the United States. However, the makers of Tylenol have been working on developing an antidote to acetaminophen poisoning that has already saved lives.

It's frightening that something most of us take every day -- without thinking twice about -- can be so deadly. I would have never considered acetaminophen as dangerous as some other drugs, but I certainly will be more careful with my dosage going forward.

Have you ever taken over the recommended dosage of acetaminophen? Are you ever worried about overdosing on OTC medicines?

 

Image via e-Magine Art/Flickr

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linzemae linzemae

Ibuprofen anyone?

Jespren Jespren

Well, ibuprofen is just as dangerous, there is just a bigger difference between 'common dose' and 'kill you dose', but you can od on ibuprofen too. Pain pills are wonderful, and powerful and must be used properly.

Autum... Autumnleaves87

Hmm. Over the past 10 years, 1500 people died from taking too much tylenol. Soo... 150 people a year? Seems like that's a very small amount of people. Like its not very likely at all... Not trying to belittle the situation, but I think you're more likely to get killed by a donkey than you are ODing on tylenol...

lalab... lalaboosh

Smh. Common sense, y'all.

nonmember avatar Suni

I am with autumnleaves on this one. It is tragic, but 1500 over 10 years isn't very many people.

nonmember avatar Megan

yeah...I feel like that isn't very many people

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

...Who didnt know this already? Geez -.-

MamaD... MamaDV1012

There ARE maximum dosage warning labels on acetaminophen.  Ibuprofen IS more dangerous.  I usually only take acetaminophen when I'm pregnant, nursing, or scheduled to have a medical procedure.  Ibuprofen is more effective.  The warnings on this are for people taking the medication long-term.  If you're taking pain medications long-term for any reason, OTC just doesn't cut it.  You should probably go to a doctor anyways.  I'm surprised this is an article on here. 

the4m... the4mutts

What I got from this story, is that TYLENOL is a great company that seems to want its consumers to be safe. Kudos to them for trying to help the problem, as minor as it is. I mean, 150ppl a year, and they're working to save those few people? Good for them.

the4m... the4mutts

Well, not THOSE people, but you know what I mean

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