Surgery

How a common drug causes liver failure

Acetaminophen is a common pain reliever found in every pharmacy. However, it is also the No. 1 cause of acute liver failure in the United States. In the liver, acetaminophen is converted into a new compound that covalently ...

Pediatrics

Acetaminophen can reduce recurrence of febrile seizures

(HealthDay)—Acetaminophen can reduce the risk for febrile seizure (FS) recurrence during the same fever episode among infants and children, according to a study published online Oct. 8 in Pediatrics.

Surgery

IV acetaminophen minimally helpful for colectomy pain

(HealthDay)—Intravenous acetaminophen does not decrease opioid utilization to a clinically significant threshold among colectomy patients, according to a study published in the July issue of Anesthesiology.

Surgery

Early post-op APAP exposure may cut AKI risk in peds cardiac Sx

(HealthDay)—For pediatric patients undergoing cardiac surgery, early postoperative acetaminophen exposure may be associated with a reduced rate of acute kidney injury (AKI), according to a study published online May 14 ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Fighting a cold or flu? beware of overdosing on tylenol

(HealthDay)—A brutal flu season has had people reaching for relief in their medicine cabinet, but a new study warns that overdosing on acetaminophen (Tylenol) is more common when bugs and viruses are circulating.

Medications

Studies examine trends in pain medication use

A new study reveals that acetaminophen use and over-dosing rise in cold/flu season in the United States, primarily due to increased use of over-the-counter combination medications treating upper respiratory symptoms. Another ...

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Paracetamol

Paracetamol (INN) (pronounced /ˌpærəˈsiːtəmɒl, ˌpærəˈsɛtəmɒl/) or acetaminophen (/əˌsiːtəˈmɪnɵfrɨn/  ( listen)) (USAN) is a widely used over-the-counter analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer). It is commonly used for the relief of fever, headaches, and other minor aches and pains, and is a major ingredient in numerous cold and flu remedies. In combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid analgesics, paracetamol is used also in the management of more severe pain (such as cancer or postoperative pain).

While generally safe for human use at recommended doses, acute overdoses (above 1000 mg per single dose and above 4000 mg per day for adults, above 2000 mg per day if drinking alcohol) of paracetamol can cause potentially fatal liver damage and, in rare individuals, a normal dose can do the same; the risk is heightened by alcohol consumption. Paracetamol toxicity is the foremost cause of acute liver failure in the Western world, and accounts for most drug overdoses in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Paracetamol is derived from coal tar, and is part of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics”; it is the only such drug still in use today. It is the active metabolite of phenacetin, once popular as an analgesic and antipyretic in its own right, but unlike phenacetin and its combinations, paracetamol is not considered to be carcinogenic at therapeutic doses. The words acetaminophen and paracetamol both come from chemical names for the compound: para-acetylaminophenol and para-acetylaminophenol. In some contexts, it is simply abbreviated as APAP, for N-acetyl-para-aminophenol.

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