Since the 1990s, research has indicated that Tylenol is a major cause of acute liver failure in the United States, with up to half of Tylenol-related cases caused by unintentional overdose. Since that time, the FDA has taken steps to minimize the incidence of acetaminophen-related liver injury by raising consumer awareness about the connection between Tylenol overdose and liver damage. Unfortunately, the FDA warns, the extent of liver failure cases reported in medical literature today indicates that liver injury from Tylenol overdose remains a serious public health issue. In fact, the FDA reports that, between 1990 and 1998, there were an estimated 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations and 458 deaths associated with acetaminophen-related overdoses, and the statistics are on the rise. If you have suffered from liver damage side effects of Tylenol overdose, contact a Tylenol attorney to explore your compensation options, as you may be entitled to reimbursement for your injuries, medical bills and other damages.
According to the FDA, many cases of acetaminophen overdose are caused by consumers mistakenly taking more than the recommended dose of the drug. Because Tylenol is available as an over-the-counter medication, many consumers assume that the drug is safe and side effect-free. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, between 1998 and 2003, acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, with 48% of acetaminophen-related instances associated with accidental overdose. In response to concerns about the significant connection between acetaminophen use and acute liver failure, the FDA asked manufacturers of acetaminophen-containing products in January 2011 to limit the amount of the drug to 325 mg per tablet or capsule. Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson has also since reduced the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg.
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors – including the limited information available regarding consumer understanding of liver toxicity, the varying degrees to which consumers are prone to liver damage, and the fact that acute liver failure is often difficult to recognize – that contribute to the incidence of Tylenol overdose and Tylenol-related liver injury. As a result, even though the FDA can recommend that consumers take no more than the daily recommended dose of Tylenol (3,000 mg), there is no universal Tylenol dose that causes liver damage in adults. For this reason, the following is important information that adults taking Tylenol should take into consideration:
The liver is an extremely important organ and is responsible for a number of critical roles in the body's functioning. In addition to metabolizing nutrients and producing bile for the breakdown of fats, the liver also produces proteins and removes potentially harmful substances from the bloodstream. This last job involves removing dangerous byproducts from medications like Tylenol, as small amounts of acetaminophen are converted to a toxic metabolite when ingested. Under normal circumstances, the liver can dispose of this toxin easily. However, if too much Tylenol is ingested, the toxic metabolite can overwhelm the liver and bind with liver proteins to cause cellular injury, which can lead to liver damage and acute liver failure.
The FDA has indicated that taking more than the recommended dose of Tylenol can cause liver damage ranging from abnormalities in blood tests used to asses liver function, to acute liver failure and possibly even death. Unfortunately, research suggests that individuals taking a normal amount of Tylenol for a period of time may also suffer from Tylenol overdose and the associated complications. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even healthy adults taking the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results. Because acute liver failure associated with Tylenol overdose can occur in as little as 48 hours, adults taking Tylenol should educate themselves about the potential side effects of Tylenol use and the warning signs of liver damage. Once liver injury progresses to acute liver failure, there is little that can be done to reverse the damage, and a liver transplant may be needed for survival. If you have suffered from acute liver failure and you believe Tylenol to be the cause, contact a qualified Tylenol attorney today to discuss your legal options.