Tylenol Deadly Overdose – Taking even slightly too much Tylenol over a period of several days can lead to an overdose with deadly consequences, a new study says. The study was published online Nov. 22 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
The study looked at what are called “staggered overdoses,” in which a person repeatedly exceeds the daily recommendation through small overdoses. This is in contrast to the more familiar single overdose, when a person takes too many pills at once.
Doctors may not identify deadly staggered version right away, researchers added. People with a staggered overdose may have levels of the drug in their blood below what a standard blood test would indicate as to much, even when their liver is badly damaged.
People taking acetaminophen should stay within the recommended limits of the drug and take even less of it when they are on other painkillers, said study researcher Kenneth Simpson of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Packets of regular Tylenol pills (325 mg) say: “Do not take more than 5 tablets in 24 hours.”
Simpson and colleagues examined information from 663 patients with liver problems caused by acetaminophen who were admitted to an Edinburgh hospital between 1992 and 2008. The researchers found that nearly a quarter of them had taken staggered overdoses.
On average, staggered overdose patients took 24 grams of acetaminophen over several days, while single-overdose patients consumed 27 grams.
The researchers found that 37.3 percent of patients with staggered overdoses died, while 27.8 percent of single overdose patients died. Staggered overdose patients also were more likely to have liver and brain problems, require kidney dialysis and need help with breathing.
Close to 60 percent said they had taken the drug to relieve pain, including abdominal or muscular pains, headache or toothache.nDuring a staggered overdose, the drug likely builds up in the liver and kills the cells, Simpson said.
The new study “sheds light on the fact that the maximum recommended daily dose should be strictly adhered to,” said Dr. Joshua Lenchus, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.