Acetaminophen Risk
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Cold/Flu Season Warning: Limit Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Use

During cold and flu season limit acetaminophen (tylenol) use

The Problem with Tylenol

A lot of folks have been coming down with the flu lately, so it’s a good time to remember all good things in moderation. Acetaminophen is in “more than 600 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)“– medications treating everything from pain to allergy, cough, cold, flu, and sleeplessness. At lower doses, Tylenol can be helpful for treating symptoms in both children and adults. However, in higher amounts, acetaminophen is known to cause severe liver damage (see signs and implications below).

Safe Dosing

The FDA recommends an adult dosing at no more than 325 mg per dosage; with a daily cap of 4000 mg. In this case, dosage does not refer to the label of a product, but the total amount consumed. This becomes particularly important for folks who take prescription pain medication containing acetaminophen, such as Percocet or Vicodin, who have come down with a cold or flu and are accustomed to reaching for a product like Dayquil. Equally common would be someone who takes the OTC pain reliever Excedrin who might be considering taking Robitussin Cold and Flu or Benadryl Allergy and Cold.

To learn more about dosing for young ones, consider reading: “Know Concentration Before Giving Acetaminophen to Infants,” and “Acetaminophen – It’s Important to Give the Correct Dose to our Children.”

Cold and Flu: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Use

Products Containing Acetaminophen

Even if you’re not sure what you’re taking contains acetaminophen, it’s very much worth double-checking the label– whether or not your medication is prescription. For a short list of some of the most common acetaminophen-containing OTC and prescriptions, visit

Signs and Implications of Liver Damage

Liver damage from excess Tylenol intake is nothing to scoff at. The damage can be permanent, and it can also result in liver failure or death over the course of several days. What’s more, “[y]ou may not notice the signs and symptoms of liver damage right away because they take time to appear. Or, you may mistake early symptoms of liver damage (for example, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting) for something else, like the flu.” Want to test your liver knowledge? Take a quiz.

Natural Medicine Alternatives

Not sure if you remember, but when SARS broke out just over a decade ago, conventional medicine turned to the aid of Chinese herbal medicine. They found that using Chinese herbs as an adjunctive therapy resulted in “better control of fever, quicker clearance of chest infection, lesser consumption of steroids and other symptoms relief.” While herbal treatment may not always mask all symptoms during the healing process, side effects tend to be few and far between. Between Chinese herbs, Western herbs and homeopathy, there are a wide array of natural options for treating cold and flu available to consumers. (Additionally, if you haven’t read already acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are also excellent at regulating pain.)

Preventative Measures

Maintaining a healthy gut is key to maintaining health. Eating fermented foods regularly and/or taking a higher dose probiotic a few months before cold season starts can often reduce the duration and severity of colds. Dr. Mercola, alternative medicine proponent and osteopathic physician, also reports that supplementing Vitamin D can “cut your flu risk nearly in half.” The cheapest thing (and yet often so challenging for folks!) you can do is get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and keep your stress levels down. Eat well and exercise.

It goes without saying, acupuncture and Reiki are excellent ways to help keep the body and mind supported both before, during, and after illness. Concerned about your regimen and ready to be proactive? Make an appointment today!