Dec 01_Pain-Relievers_HYR-Blog-Imagery

‘Tis the season…for colds, headaches, and sinus congestion. And you may find yourself reaching for a pain reliever to help you cope. Acetaminophen is an active ingredient in many pain relievers. When used properly, it can help with fevers, aches, and pain.

But it’s important to watch how much you’re taking. Though rare, it is possible to take too much, which can harm your liver. Here are 4 tips to help you use these products safely.

  1. Read the label and check the active ingredients. Not sure if the pain reliever you use contains acetaminophen? Check the label. It should be listed on all over-the-counter medicines. If you have a prescription medicine, check the medicine fact sheet or ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  2. Take only the recommended dose. Follow the dosing directions for every medicine you take, even over-the-counter medicines. Taking an extra dose or taking doses more often than recommended may cause you to consume too much.
  3. Avoid mixing and matching medicines. Many different medicines contain acetaminophen. So you may accidentally take too much if you are taking more than one medicine at a time. For instance, you may be tempted to take one over-the-counter medicine for a headache and another to help you sleep. But even if you take the correct dose of each, if both contain acetaminophen, you may still end up consuming too much.
  4. Don’t mix with alcohol. Alcohol, another staple around the holidays, does not go well with acetaminophen. Mixing the two may raise the risk of liver damage.

You can also try a pain reliever that does not contain acetaminophen. There are alternatives, like aspirin and ibuprofen. They may be hard on your stomach. And aspirin, in particular, isn’t suitable for kids. So talk to your doctor to see what he or she recommends.

In general, it’s good to talk to your doctor about any medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines. Your doctor can check for drug interactions. And he or she can also help you understand how to take each medicine.

Exercising just a little caution and care can help you use these products safely and avoid problems. Here’s to a safe and pain-free holiday season!