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Acetaminophen

Topic Overview

Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) reduces fever and relieves pain. It does not reduce swelling, as do nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, but it is less likely to cause stomach upset and other side effects.

Be sure to follow the nonprescription medicine precautions.

Dosage

  • Adults: The usual dose is 650 mg. Take every 4 hours, as needed, up to 4 times in a 24-hour period. Do not take more than 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Children: Check with your child's doctor if your child is less than 2 years old or less than 24 pounds. Give acetaminophen every 4 hours as needed. Do not give more than 5 doses in a 24-hour period. Dosages are based on the child's weight. There are different acetaminophen products for infants and children.
    • Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. Do not use acetaminophen if your child is allergic to it.
    • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with different dosing recommendations. Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine. Studies have not shown any added benefit from alternating these medicines.
    • Talk to your doctor before you give medicine to reduce a fever in a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. The exception is if your baby has just had an immunization. Fevers sometimes occur as a reaction to immunizations. After immunizations, you can give your baby medicine to reduce a fever.

Caution: Do not use this dose table with any other concentration of this medicine. Use only with the concentration of 160 mg in 5 mL. Check the label on your medicine to find the concentration.

Acetaminophen dose (160 mg in 5 mL) for your child's weight
Child's weight in pounds Child's weight in kilograms Dose in milligrams Dose in milliliters

less than11.0

less than 5.4

Ask a doctor

Ask a doctor

12.0–17.0

5.5–7.9

80 mg

2.5 mL or 1//2 teaspoon

18.0–23.0

8.0–10.9

120 mg

3.75 mL or 3/4 teaspoon

24.0–35.0

11.0–15.9

160 mg

5 mL or 1 teaspoon

36.0–47.0

16.0–21.9

240 mg

7.5 mL or 1 1/2 teaspoon

48.0–59.0

22.0–26.9

320 mg

10 mL or 2 teaspoons

60.0–71.0

27.0–31.9

400 mg

12.5 mL or 2 1/2 teaspoons

72.0–95.0

32.0–43.9

480 mg

15 mL or 3 teaspoons

Side effects of acetaminophen are rare if it is taken in correct doses.

  • Nausea and rash are the most common.
  • High doses of acetaminophen can cause liver and kidney damage.

Reasons not to take acetaminophen

Do not take acetaminophen if you:

  • Have kidney disease.
  • Have liver disease.
  • Drink alcohol heavily (3 or more drinks a day for men and 2 or more drinks a day for women).

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Current as of July 9, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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