Although acetaminophen is a very common medical substance, you may still feel strange when hearing acetaminophen because it is commonly known under the name Paracetamol. Each day, nearly 10 million adults in the United States use acetaminophen. The common and widespread use of acetaminophen puts some people in wondering if acetaminophen was harmful as well as how long does acetaminophen stays in your system. Before answering the questions, we will give you a brief view of acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen is not a new medication, it was discovered in 1877 and has been used from that time to now in the whole world. In the List of Essential Medicines of the World Health Organization, acetaminophen is considered one of the most effective and safe medicines. It can be prescribed for both adults and children.

It is widely used to treat pain and fever so it is very helpful in many conditions, such as headache, muscle pain, arthritis, and flu. In some circumstances, acetaminophen can be used for some purposes not described in this medication guide.

In America, FDA classified acetaminophen as an over-the-counter medicine which means you can buy directly from any pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor. Although acetaminophen is safe and less likely to cause adverse effects, you still need to consider carefully and get advice from a specialist before use.

Recommend dose with acetaminophen

Adults and teenagers who weigh at least 50 kilograms should use less than 1000 milligrams in a single dose, or the total dose in one day should be less than 4000 mg.

For children, acetaminophen dose should be calculated following weight, about 10-15 mg/kg/dose and do not be over 2600 mg per day. When the children’s weight is unknown, you can apply guidelines based on age.

Age0-3 months4-11 months12-23 months2-3 years old4-5 years old6-8 years old
Dose40 mg/dose80 mg/dose120 mg/dose160 mg/dose240 mg/dose320 mg/dose

Note: With children under 24 months old, you should bring your children to the hospital if the children had continuous fever rather than using acetaminophen at home.

Because acetaminophen metabolism happens in the liver, you should not intake this medication when you have liver problems. An overdose of acetaminophen can lead to liver failure or death. You need to know your liver health and the acetaminophen dose before using any medication that contains this medical substance.

Although acetaminophen hardly causes adverse effects, you may have nausea, pain, redness, dark urine, jaundice when using acetaminophen. In these cases, you should stop using and contact your doctor.

How long does acetaminophen stay in your system?

Because acetaminophen has been used widely for a long time in the medical field, we well know about acetaminophen and the answer to the question that “How long acetaminophen stays in our system” has been explained carefully by the data from numerous prospective, well-controlled studies. When you intake acetaminophen the oral way, the acetaminophen level in the blood will reach the peak within 0.5 to 1 hour and rapidly, acetaminophen has effects on your body.

The half-life of acetaminophen is from 2 to 4 hours which means it takes 2-4 hours for the concentrations of acetaminophen to decrease a half, however, there is a difference among healthy young adults, elderly adults and children.

In healthy young adults, the half-life ranges from 2 to 3 hours and longer in elderly adults. In children, the acetaminophen level in blood needs 1.5 to 2.9 hours to decrease a half. It shows that when you intake acetaminophen, this medication will stay in your body for 4 to 6 hours. Because acetaminophen is rapidly eliminated from the body, you need to repeat the dose after 4-6 hours to maintain the effective level. Also, repeated doses do not cause the accumulation of acetaminophen in the body.

For the frail elderly and people having mild to moderate liver disease, the half-life of acetaminophen is prolonger than healthy people. In these people, it takes the body 6-8 hours to eliminate all the acetaminophen amount so the repeated doses will need more time.

Overdose of Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is recommended dose that is commonly safe and less likely to cause harmful effects to the body. The overdose of acetaminophen mostly happens in children, people who are having liver or renal problems, and people who are having suicide intentions. When the body absorbs too much acetaminophen, the liver will be under attack firstly. The overdose of acetaminophen can cause liver failure which at a certain level leads to fatal.

The signs of the overdose are nausea, vomiting, sweating, confusion, and jaundice. When the overdose of acetaminophen is suspected, transferring to the hospital should be done as soon as possible.

How to use acetaminophen safely?

Like other medications, there are some principles to use acetaminophen safely. Firstly, read the medication label to know exactly the expiry date of medication, the dose, and the administration ways of acetaminophen.

Although acetaminophen is an over-the-counter medication, you still need to follow the dose of the doctor’s prescription. Also, as the information about the maximum amount of acetaminophen per day, you should not use exceed the content of acetaminophen.

If you have problems with the liver or kidneys, you have to inform your doctor. Pregnant women also need a consultation with a specialist when having problems that demand the use of acetaminophen.


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