Acetaminophen and Tylenol

Check the Drug Facts label to see what concentration of acetaminophen you have.
Check the Drug Facts label to see what concentration of acetaminophen you have when you buy Infants' acetaminophen. Photo courtesy of the FDA

Is Acetaminophen the Same as Tylenol?

Acetaminophen is a popular and well-known medication, at least under its trade name Tylenol.

Unfortunately, if parents don't recognize that Tylenol and acetaminophen are the same thing, they may not realize that they are overdosing their child if they give more than one medicine with acetaminophen on its ingredient list.

Acetaminophen

The use of acetaminophen gained in popularity as parents were warned about using aspirin because of its association with Reye's syndrome.

Acetaminophen is commonly used as a fever reducer (antipyretic) and pain reliever (analgesic). However, unlike the non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen does not reduce inflammation.

Formulations of acetaminophen include liquid, chewable tablets, tablets, suppositories and even an intravenous solution (IV).

Acetaminophen Issues

Acetaminophen overdoses, either accidental or intentional, is always a concern, as it is with most other medications. To help decrease the risk of acetaminophen overdoses in younger children, dosages of acetaminophen oral suspension have been standardized, and some drug companies will no longer make acetaminophen infant drops. Unfortunately, other drug companies might still make the more concentrated acetaminophen drops - which makes looking at drug labels and instructions very important.

Another issue is whether the increased use of acetaminophen is associated with the increased number of children being diagnosed with asthma.

One expert, John T. McBride, M.D., goes so far as to say that, "Until future studies document the safety of this drug, children with asthma or at risk for asthma should avoid the use of acetaminophen." Others would like to see some studies to prove the association before making any formal recommendations.

Medications with Acetaminophen

Examples of medications that have acetaminophen as an ingredient (check the active ingredient list of your medications) include:

  • Infants' Tylenol Oral Suspension
  • Children's Tylenol Oral Suspension
  • Children's Tylenol Meltaway Chewable Tablets
  • Jr. Tylenol Chewable Tablets
  • Little Fevers Infant Fever/Pain Reliever
  • PediaCare Infants Fever Reducer Pain Reliever
  • PediaCare Children Acetaminophen Oral Suspension
  • PediaCare Children Cough and Sore Throat plus Acetaminophen
  • PediaCare Children Multi-Symptom Cold plus Acetaminophen
  • PediaCare Children Cough and Runny Nose plus Acetaminophen
  • PediaCare Children Flu plus Acetaminophen
  • Triaminic Infants' Syrup Fever Reducer Pain Reliever
  • Triaminic Fever Reducer Pain Reliever
  • Triaminic Multi-Symptom Fever
  • Triaminic Cough & Sore Throat
  • FeverAll Acetaminophen Suppositories
  • Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold & Fever Liquid
  • Walgreens Infants' Pain & Fever Acetaminophen Oral Suspension
  • NyQuil Cold/Flu Relief
  • Robitussin Severe Multi-Symptom Cough, Cold + Flu Nighttime
  • Theraflu Day & Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough Relief Tea Packets
  • Excedrin
  • Lortab

In fact, according to the FDA, "more than 600 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), contain the active ingredient acetaminophen to help relieve pain and reduce fever."

Also, be aware that many of these medications with acetaminophen are cough and cold medicines. So, don't also give another acetaminophen product for fever or you will double up on the amount of acetaminophen you are giving your child.

Also Known As: Tylenol, paracetamol, APAP, AC

Examples: It is important that you don't give your kids more than one medicine with acetaminophen, such as Tylenol and also a cough and cold medicine with acetaminophen, as this can lead to an overdose.

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