The pain, fever, and flu season are upon us. If you’ve been among the unfortunate souls who have contracted the latest strains of colds and flu this year, you know how challenging it can be to find relief and get your body back to normal. If you’re like many other people with aching muscles, fevered brow, and a general sense that your whole body is coming down with something, you’re probably trying everything you can think of to feel better as quickly as possible. Many people reach for aspirin or ibuprofen for their aches and pains, but if those don’t suit your needs or taste, what else can you take for aches and pains?
Can I Take 3 Extra Strength Tylenol At One Time?
3 Extra Strength Tylenol taken together is a dangerous dose. The normal range of Tylenol to take at one time is 1-2 every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain relief. Taking Too Much Tylenol can cause liver damage and other serious health problems. Do not take more than 4000 milligrams of acetaminophen in 24 hours. If you need help finding the right amount of acetaminophen for your body, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Is It Safe to Take 3 Extra Strength Tylenol?
- I’m going, to be honest with you, I don’t know the answer to this question. That’s because, even though I am a physician, I haven’t taken 3 extra strength Tylenol in years (and then only after a simple bottle of aspirin had started to lose its effectiveness). Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are generally considered safe for most adults. However, they can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers if you take too much of them. In addition, they can cause blood clots in some people.
- In general, NSAIDs are considered safe for kids and teens as long as they are not given in higher than recommended doses. The FDA recommends that kids and teens under 18 take no more than 2 tablets of ibuprofen or 1 tablet of aspirin per day. For most adults these dosages are also considered appropriate; however, some people have an increased risk for stomach bleeding when they take NSAIDs so check with your doctor before you start taking them if you have had stomach problems before or if you have any other medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- So, if you are a parent, take care of your kids. Don’t give them aspirin or ibuprofen if they’ve never had stomach problems before. If you have kids and you have to give them aspirin or ibuprofen to help them with their aches and pains, make sure that they take it as directed on the label and in the instructions for use. Never give aspirin to anyone under 18 without a doctor’s permission, as this is an extremely dangerous way for children to get aspirin.
- If you are an adult who has taken or is taking NSAIDs for pain relief, please do not stop taking these medications without checking with your doctor first! If you can no longer tolerate side effects from these medications because of stomach bleeding or other problems then talk to your doctor about switching over to acetaminophen (Tylenol). Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and is used for pain relief. It does not cause stomach bleeding or ulcers like NSAIDs can. Acetaminophen does not cause blood clots though so it is very safe for most adults. In general, acetaminophen should be taken at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- If you’re taking acetaminophen, you should still take your NSAID at the same time of day as you take your Tylenol. For example, if you take an NSAID at lunchtime, then take a dose of acetaminophen about 3 hours later. If you wait too long to take the acetaminophen after taking the NSAID then it may not work as well and you might be able to still use your NSAID but not as effectively because it has already started wearing off. Also, some people can experience side effects from taking acetaminophen with an NSAID so please talk to your doctor if this is an issue for you.
How Does Tylenol Work?
1. Pain Relief
Tylenol is used to relieve pain. The active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, works by reducing the number of substances called prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation.
2. Fever Reduction
Acetaminophen is also used to reduce fever. When you have a fever, your body produces chemicals called prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation as well as make you feel hot and uncomfortable. By reducing the number of prostaglandins in your body with acetaminophen, you can reduce the severity of your fever without having to take medication for it.
3. Headache Relief
Acetaminophen is also used to relieve headaches because it reduces the number of substances called prostaglandins that cause headaches and stiffness in the neck muscles (called cervical spasms).
4. Heartburn Relief
Acetaminophen is also used to treat heartburn because it reduces stomach acid production and relieves symptoms such as indigestion and nausea caused by heartburn or reflux (backing up) of stomach acid into the esophagus or food pipe.
5. Muscle Pain Relief
Acetaminophen can also be used to relieve muscle pain because it reduces the number of substances called prostaglandins in your body that cause muscle pain and stiffness.
6. Nausea Relief
Acetaminophen is also used to relieve nausea because it reduces the number of substances called prostaglandins that cause nausea and vomiting.
The Dangers of Taking 3 Extra Strength Tylenol
Taking more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen can trigger an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that can cause death if not treated right away. Anaphylaxis is caused by the release of chemicals produced by your body in response to the extra acetaminophen. These chemicals cause your blood pressure to drop and you may feel dizzy and faint. If you have asthma, this could lead to a life-threatening asthma attack because you won’t be able to breathe.
2. Liver Damage
Taking more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen can damage your liver and cause permanent damage to it over time unless it is treated right away with a liver transplant or with medication (called Tylenol, NAC, or DIC). Taking too much acetaminophen can also lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes) which causes itching, skin discoloration, and darkening of urine as well as yellowing or darkening of skin under your eyes (called icterus).
Taking too much acetaminophen can also make you very sick if you have a rare condition called Wilson’s disease. People with this condition often have severe liver damage (called cirrhosis) and must take medication to prevent it from getting worse.
4. Heart Attack
Taking too much acetaminophen can also cause a heart attack. This is called acute liver failure, which means that your liver has stopped working properly and your body is not able to make the needed chemicals it needs to survive. Acetaminophen can also cause heart failure if you already have heart problems. If you have a heart problem, taking too much acetaminophen can lead to a life-threatening condition called cardiomyopathy (also called congestive heart failure). Cardiomyopathy is a serious medical condition where the muscle tissue in your heart becomes weak and enlarged (called hypertrophy). This causes your heart muscles to become weak and enlarged, making it harder for your blood to flow normally through them. If you already have congestive heart failure, taking too much acetaminophen can further damage and possibly kill your diseased or weakened heart muscle leading to congestive heart failure which is a serious medical condition where the function of the valves of the arteries supplying blood to and from the lungs decreases causing fluid buildup in the lungs.
5. Liver Failure
Taking too much acetaminophen can also cause liver failure. This condition is caused by the liver not being able to process and remove toxins from the blood as it normally would. As a result of this, toxins build up in the blood, which can lead to serious health problems such as confusion, seizures, coma, and death (called acute liver failure). Acetaminophen is not just dangerous for people with liver damage or disease. It is also very dangerous for anyone who has a low level of certain natural substances in their body called glutathione (GSH) or glutathione S-transferases (GSTs). These substances are needed to help your body make and use glutathione. Glutathione helps protect your cells from free radicals and other toxins that are produced naturally by your cells during normal cellular function and digestion. Your body uses glutathione to protect your cells from free radicals. If you have low levels of these substances in your body or if you are taking prescription medications that interfere with the ability of these substances to work properly, you may be more likely to get severe side effects when you take acetaminophen than someone who does not
This has been an exhaustive list as far as what you can do to avoid taking an extra-strength dose of Tylenol. And while some of these methods may seem like overkill, they’re worth it to avoid the damage that an overdose can cause. If you’re dealing with a headache or muscle ache, you might have to try a few different things to find something that works for you. Everyone’s bodies are different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re dealing with a headache, it’s okay to ask for an extra aspirin from a friend or a coworker. If you’re dealing with a cold, it’s okay to ask you’re significant other to bring you some tea. And if you’re dealing with a low-grade ache, it’s okay to ask for an over-the-counter painkiller like Tylenol.