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What is Acetaminophen?

Acetaminophen, chemically known as N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. From a scientific standpoint, the acetaminophen chemical structure is taken from p-aminophenol, and is a synthetic, nonopiate, centrally acting analgesic.

More commonly, acetaminophen is commonly known as Tylenol, an over-the-counter medication (also available by prescription) that is typically taken orally, and is available in coated caplet, chewable tablet, gel cap, gel tab, suppository and liquid form. Liquid forms are available in weaker doses (for children), as well as in concentrated drops.

Uses for Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is most commonly used to treat pain, such as headaches, muscle aches, toothaches and more. It is often mixed with other medications to increase its effectiveness. For example, acetaminophen and codeine may be used to treat more intense pain, such as post-operative pain. It can also be used to treat fever.

Acetaminophen has proven effective in managing pain from mild arthritis, but does not have any actual impact on inflammation and swelling of joints (other medications, such as Aspirin, are proven more effective).

Possible Side Effects of Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is commonly used, but can cause side effects in certain individuals. Side effects include (but aren't limited to) fever and nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, urine discoloration (darkening) or stool discoloration (clay-colored) and jaundice.

Signs of allergic reaction may also present, including swelling of face, throat, lips or tongue, or difficulty breathing. If any of these side effects or signs of reaction occur, stop using acetaminophen and contact a doctor immediately.

Warnings About Acetaminophen

The information listed here regarding acetaminophen is for reference purposes only, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Always consult a doctor before introducing a new medication into your health regimen for correct dosage and treatment information, proper monitoring and further side effects or possible interactions with other medications.

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