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What Are Possible Acetminophen Reactions?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Acetaminophen reactions are relatively rare among those who take the medication as directed on the packaging or by a doctor, although those with liver disease or people who consume large amounts of alcohol may be at a greater risk of developing complications. Some of the most commonly reported acetaminophen reactions include gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, and insomnia. More serious complications may include blood pressure changes, liver damage, or allergic reactions. Any questions or concerns about suspected acetaminophen reactions in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Long-term use of acetaminophen or taking more than the recommended amount of this medication may cause liver damage in some people. Those who already have a history of liver problems may be advised against using this type of pain reliever. Heavy alcohol consumption combined with the use of acetaminophen also increases the risks of developing liver damage. Jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin or eyes, is one of the most common signs of liver damage and should be reported to a doctor right away.

Gastrointestinal disturbances are among the possible acetaminophen reactions. These disturbances may include nausea, vomiting, or intestinal cramps. Clay-colored stool or abnormally dark urine may develop when taking this medication. Mild fever and loss of appetite may accompany these symptoms and should be evaluated by a doctor, as severe complications, including internal bleeding or infection, may occur.

Dizziness or insomnia are also among the potential acetaminophen reactions. In most cases, these symptoms are mild, but a doctor should be consulted if they persist or become severe. Allergic reactions are uncommon acetaminophen reactions but can be life threatening. Signs of a possible allergic reaction include chest pain; difficulty breathing; and swelling of the face, tongue, or throat.

Patients with some medical conditions or those who are taking certain medications may need to avoid this type of pain reliever or may need the dosage altered by a doctor. It is important to tell the doctor about any over-the-counter, prescription, or herbal medications being taken in order to prevent possible acetaminophen reactions. Birth control pills, blood thinners, and other pain relievers may increase the risks of adverse reactions. Those with medical conditions such as liver disease, bleeding disorders, or some autoimmune diseases may be advised to take alternate medications for pain relief. If in doubt, it is always wise to consult a doctor before taking any new medication, including vitamins or herbal supplements.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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