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Acetaminophen is a common drug that is found in many over the counter (OTC) fever reducers, pain relievers, and cold remedies as well as in prescription pain medications. Acetaminophen is commonly known as Tylenol®. 

When giving more than one medicine, read the list of active ingredients. Accidental overdoses can occur when someone either takes or is given more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen. 

Accidental overdoses can also happen when the wrong measuring device is used or too much of the medicine is given. 

Large amounts of acetaminophen can cause liver failure, kidney damage, and possibly death. It is very important to read the directions included and give the correct dose of acetaminophen.

Here are some tips to remember when using acetaminophen:

  • Know your child’s weight.  Medicines are often dosed by weight or age.  Remember that the dose will change as your child grows.
  • Read all the directions carefully.  This is important so that you will know how much medicine to give and how often to give it.
  • Pay attention to the container and the label.  There are formulations for adults, children, and infants.
  • Follow the directions on the package/bottle.  Give the amount of medicine that is listed for you or your child based on his/her weight and age.
  • Always use the measuring device that is included with the medicine.
    • Never use droppers, spoons, or cups that come with other medicines.
    • Never use kitchen teaspoons or tablespoons because they may not be accurate.
  • NEVER give more than the recommended dose – this will NOT provide faster relief.
  • NEVER use adult-strength medicines for children under the age of 12.
  • After giving a child a dose of medicine, write down the time it was given and the amount given to avoid an accidental overdose.  Adults should also keep track if taking more than one dose in a 24-hour period.


Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site immediately in the case of an accidental overdose or for further treatment advice. 

Last Updated on 12/13/2023