Is Tylenol (acetaminophen) poisoning serious?

Tylenol is probably found in every American household, so sometimes people tend to think of it as harmless but it isn't. Initial symptoms of Tylenol poisoning, including nausea and vomiting, can be merely uncomfortable and may not seem that serious. However, left untreated, Tylenol poisoning can severely damage the liver. After enough time without treatment, Tylenol poisoning can cause complete liver failure, coma and even death.

Samuel M. Warren, MD

Believe it or not, Tylenol (acetaminophen) is the most common cause of acute liver failure resulting in death or liver transplantation in the U.S.!  Furthermore, about half of these Tylenol overdoses are unintentional (i.e., not suicide attempts).  I have seen this too many times. 

If you know you have taken too much Tylenol, get to an urgent medical setting immediately.  If you are unsure of your danger level, at least call your Poison Center for advice.  Medical therapy for a Tylenol overdose involves an antidote and close medical observation and is not something you can accomplish on your own.

To help prevent Tylenol poisoning, please be aware of Tylenol’s other names: acetaminophen, APAP, or paracetamol.  It is an ingredient of a large number of over-the-counter medicines, as well as multiple prescription pain medicines.  Know what you are taking, to avoid stacking multiple sources of Tylenol.   




Continue Learning about Acetaminophen

What are the risks of taking too much acetaminophen?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Acetaminophen is one of the most popular painkillers in the country. It’s mostly known as the ac...
More Answers
How can I find out if a medication contains acetaminophen?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
You can determine if an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine contains acetaminophen by checking the p...
More Answers
Can acetaminophen alleviate headaches?
Acetaminophen is an analgesic that is used for treating mild to moderate headache pain. If heada...
More Answers
How to Bring Down a HIgh Fever
How to Bring Down a HIgh Fever

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.