acetaminophen

acetaminophen

[uh-see-tuh-min-uh-fuhn, as-i-tuh-]

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol and by the abbreviation APAP (both terms are derived from the chemical compound name para-acetylaminophenol), is an analgesic and antipyratic used primarily as a treatment for minor aches and pains, headaches and as a fever reducer. Acetaminophen is the primary ingredient in many over-the-counter drugs including, but not limited to, Tylenol, Acephen, Uniserts and Tempra. It is one of the most widely available drugs in the world and accounts for the majority of overdoses in the United States and United Kingdom.

Though Acetaminophen was first synthesized late in the 19th century, it didn't reach widespread use until 1953. Early tests with the drug linked it to occurrences of methemoglobinemia. Scientists discredited the notion in 1949 and within a few years, Sterling Winthrop was marketing the drug as a safer alternative to Aspirin for children and those suffering from ulcers. Recent studies have questioned the drugs fever-reducing capabilities, and it is frequently found to be less effective than ibuprofen in treating illness.

.Acetaminophen's mechanism of action is not completely understood and it is believed that it raises the pain threshold in users by inhibiting the nitric oxide pathway. It is a versatile drug and can be administered as a tablet, capsule, suppository and intravenously, among others. Recommended doses begin at 1,000 mg for a single dose and up to 4,000 mg per day for adults. Acetaminophen should be used no more than the recommended dose. It has been linked to liver damage and can be especially harmful to those with alcoholic liver disease. Drinking while medicating with Acetaminophen may also cause additional liver damage and should be avoided. A doctor should be advised before taking acetaminophen in conjunction with other medications including, but not limited to, antibiotics, birth control, blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications, and seizure medications.

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