December 2, 2022

Paracetamol warning: painkiller is one of the ‘most dangerous drugs’, says scientist

A medical expert has called the common painkiller “the most dangerous over-the-counter drug”. Speaking to ABC News, Professor John Brems said paracetamol – also known as Tylenol – has been linked to liver failure if not taken correctly.

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A pharmacist explains how paracetamol and ibuprofen work

Most of us take paracetamol for a variety of minor ailments, including headaches, toothaches, or to bring down the temperature.

But if taken incorrectly, the drug is capable of causing us serious harm, including liver failure.

And one form of paracetamol – acetaminophen – has been dubbed America’s “most dangerous over-the-counter drug” by an American medical expert.

Speaking to ABC News, Professor John Brems, of Loyola University Chicago, said there were cases where the painkiller, also known as Tylenol, had been linked to liver failure.

While these cases are troubling, it is essential to note three key factors:

  • It does not apply to all forms of paracetamol, just Tylenol
  • Many patients involved took the drug in addition to alcohol
  • The poisoning occurred after a prolonged period of drug overuse.






If taken incorrectly, paracetamol is capable of causing us serious harm, including liver failure.
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)


But the cases are concerning for those taking this specific form of painkiller.

Users have reported acute liver poisoning, with some even requiring a liver transplant.

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Many of us take paracetamol for a variety of minor ailments, including headaches, toothaches, or to bring down a temperature.
(

Image:

Getty Images)


Professor Brems revealed that he performs transplants on around three to four patients a year “and two to three die before we can transplant them”, he said.

The condition requiring a transplant is known as toxic hepatitis – where the liver becomes inflamed due to an adverse reaction to drugs, chemicals or alcohol.

Speaking on the cases, UK GP Sarah Jarvis said: ‘Paracetamol is one of the most commonly taken medicines in the UK.

“For most people who stick to the recommended intake, this is not a problem. But if you take more than the recommended dose – especially over a long period – you could be putting yourself at risk.

As with all medicines, it is very important that paracetamol is only taken in the dose recommended either by your GP or according to the instructions on the package.

Each person, Dr. Jarvis said, has a “daily intake of paracetamol,” which is the limit the body should consume. It is essential to remember that paracetamol in cold and flu remedies counts for this.

Liver disease has recently made headlines in the UK not for cases of liver failure, but rather for the outbreak of a mysterious form of acute hepatitis in children under five.

The outbreak began in Scotland earlier this year and has since spread across the world to more than a dozen countries.

Parents were told to watch for symptoms of hepatitis in their children, the most common being vomiting and jaundice.

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