If you are concerned about overdose, or a toxic level of Tylenol being consumed, contact poison control immediately. More information on the toxicity can be found here:
“Oxidation” is a normal process in the body that happens when we use oxygen to create energy for the cell. The byproduct of oxidation is the creation of “free radicals” which are unstable molecules. Free radicals are “bad” because they can damage cell DNA, potentially causing permanent mutations. The body uses anti-oxidants to “scavenge” free radicals, neutralizing them so they can’t damage the DNA or any other part of the cell.
Glutathione is a sulfur-containing molecule that can absorb the impact of many of these free radicals. Once it absorbs a free-radical it needs to be converted back to the active form. When the body takes a large oxidative “hit” it causes the depletion of active glutathione. The result is lots and lots and lots of oxidative damage. Glutathione is especially important because it is active in the brain, unlike most other antioxidants. Can you imagine what would happen if you deplete glutathione in the brain? You end up with oxidative damage, inflammation and brain injury.
So guess what medicine is known for depleting glutathione?
You guessed it, acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Tylenol has been called into question for decades now, but yet remains to be the last remaining member of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics” on the market. Acetaminophen only blocks the feelings of pain and reduces fever, it exerts no anti-inflammatory action. In reality, Tylenol can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation on the brain, all while masking the symptoms.
But Tylenol is Safe, Right? NO.
Acetaminophen (known as paracetamol in the UK) is linked to more deaths per year than any other over-the-counter pain reliever.
Acetaminophen (sold under the brand name Tylenol, among others) may be among the most dangerous medicines on the market. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to most of you, as virtually every single household keeps a bottle on hand for the occasional ache and pain, and doesn’t think twice about taking it.
Not thinking, it turns out, could cost you dearly… Acetaminophen overdose is actually the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the US—more than 100,000 instances per year—and, each year, is responsible for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths due to liver failure.
The International Journal of Epidemiology said children born to mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy were more likely to have behavior problems and slow motor development at age 3. Another study cited an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 7.
Even scarier than this information is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rating system for drugs in pregnancy ranks Tylenol safer than ibuprofen, and much safer than aspirin. The truth: There are no “safe” pharmaceuticals to take while pregnant (or at all.) So much is unknown about fetal development, especially in relation to pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, every mother should do her best to avoid taking any pharmaceuticals.
Brain Development while in utero: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Research data suggest that acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor, and abnormal hormonal exposures in pregnancy may influence fetal brain development.
Acetaminophen is the most commonly used pain and fever medication during pregnancy. Research shows a positive correlation between acetaminophen use and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and the longer duration the use of the medication (i.e., use for >20 weeks in gestation), the further increased risk of ASD or infantile autism with hyperkinetic symptoms occurs (almost twofold.) Studies suggest acetaminophen exposure early in fetal life may specifically impact this hyperactive behavioral phenotype. (Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.)
Infants and Children
The thing that makes Acetaminophen dangerous, especially for children, is that the difference between a “dose” and an “overdose” is fairly small. If twice the recommended daily dose is taken, liver damage can result. That does not give you much margin of error. It is very easy to improperly measure Tylenol drops and give your child too much.
There are four easy ways for your child to get an overdose of Tylenol/Acetaminophen:
- Giving your child the wrong dose of the medicine by mixing up infants’ and children’s Tylenol. If you have several children of different ages and one of them is an infant, this mistake can be extremely easy to make, especially at night.
- You can accidentally give your child a double dose. One parent gives the child a dose of tylenol, and then the other parent does the same thing 10 minutes later because of lack of communication.
- You give your child two medicines simultaneously, both of which contain Tylenol/Acetominophen.
- You drop a Tylenol pill on the floor, your toddler pops it in his/her mouth, and because Tylenol is “safe” you don’t even think about the ramifications.
Children Given Acetaminophen are at risk of:
*Note: These can be caused while in utero if the mother takes acetaminophen.
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders (ADHD)
- Learning Disabilities
- Prolonged Illness
- Liver Damage
- Hyperkinetic Disorders
- Leaky Gut
- Fatal Skin Reactions
Strong evidence proves that acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol or Paracetamol) increases in the rate of autism, asthma, and attention deficit with hyperactivity in genetically and/or metabolically susceptible children. http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/study-evidence-that-acetaminophen-especially-in-conjunction-with-vaccines-is-a-major-cause-of-autism-and-asthma/#sthash.bxNDiAiS.dpuf
Using Tylenol in lowering fevers actually prolongs illness: Studies show aspirin and acetaminophen suppress production of antibodies and increase cold symptoms, with a trend toward longer infectiousness.
- In a study of children with chickenpox, acetaminophen prolonged itching and the time to scabbing compared to placebo treatment.
- In test-tube studies, therapeutic levels of medicine suppressed the ability of human white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
- Another study found that a host of pain relievers, including aspirin, tylenol and ibuprofen, inhibited white-cell production of antibodies by up to 50 percent.
ADHD: Exposure to acetaminophen in utero and in infancy, increased both the likelihood of a diagnosis and prescription, and more exposure increased the chances even more. Based on the researchers’ estimates, any exposure to acetaminophen increases the risk of an ADHD prescription by 30 percent.
Asthma: A major study of over 20,000 children suggests that giving this popular medicine even as infrequently as once per year could have a permanent, life-threatening health effect – Asthma. Children who receive Tylenol (or other acetaminophen) only once per year are at 70% greater risk for asthma while those receiving Tylenol once a month or more were shockingly 540% more likely to have asthma. The study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, also found that children who had even a single dose of Tylenol before their first birthday had a 60% risk of developing asthma. http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706
Liver Damage/Failure: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26706992 Acetaminophen is the cause of many poisonings, which lead to liver damage. (Acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly HALF of ALL acute liver failure cases in the US.)
(The liver is the place where your body processes acetaminophen to remove it from the bloodstream. This natural removal process is the reason why you have to take Acetaminophen every four hours or so. When you take too much acetaminophen, it overloads the liver’s ability to handle the drug. In the process, it creates a toxin that kills your liver, eventually killing you.)
Fatal Skin Reactions: Acetaminophen has been linked to very serious skin reactions. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/26/acetaminophen-overdose.aspx
As of 2013, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) reports the following cases of skin reactions caused by acetaminophen:
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS):This reaction begins with flu-like symptoms that progress into a painful purple or red rash that blisters and causes the top layer of your skin to slough off. This can lead to serious infections, blindness, damage to internal organs, permanent skin damage, and even death.
- Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS):TENS also typically begins with flu-like symptoms (cough, headache, aches, and fever) and progresses into a blistering rash. Layers of the skin may peel away in sheets, and hair and nails may fall out. TENS is often fatal, typically as a result of infection.
- Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP):This skin eruption causes numerous pustules to appear on the skin, often accompanied by fever. This condition typically resolves within two weeks once the acetaminophen is stopped.
Leaky Gut Syndrome: 50-70% of chronic Tylenol users (even children) have increased intestinal permeability, which is linked to autoimmune diseases. http://www.side-effects-site.com/tylenol-side-effects.html
Cancer: New research shows that acetaminophen can be linked to blood cancers. Chronic acetaminophen users (as young as childhood even) have nearly twice the risk of developing blood cancer. The definition of “high” use was using acetaminophen at least four times a week for at least four years — an amount that numerous Americans could easily exceed without even realizing it. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/25/this-common-otc-painkiller-found-linked-to-cancer.aspx
Hyperkinetic Disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk for HKDs and ADHD-like behaviors in children.
Autism: “In the early 1980’s about 42% of women used acetaminophen during the first trimester of pregnancy. The rate (of autism) climbed to over 65% in the early 1990’s, where it has essentially remained through 2004.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030462 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
Tylenol and Vaccines: Research shows that acetaminophen use after measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination is significantly associated with autistic disorder when considering children 5 years of age or less. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
A large part of what makes acetaminophen so dangerous is that it’s found in so many products. Please read your labels and understand the possible outcomes of your choices.
Remember that adults are at risk for the above mentioned side effects (and others), but today, we are just focusing on the pregnant mother and child.
Shaw W. Evidence that increased acetaminophen use in genetically vulnerable children appears to be a major cause of the epidemics of autism, attention deficit with hyperactivity, and asthma. J Restorative Medicine 2013;2:1–16.
Deth R (PhD). Personal communication 2010.
Hong RW, Rounds JD, Helton SW, Robinson MK, Wilmore DW. Glutamine preserves liver glutathione after lethal hepatic injury. Ann Surg 1992;215:114–119.
Bauer AZ, Kriebel D. Prenatal and perinatal analgesic exposure and autism: an ecological link. Environmental Health 2013;12:41.