Acetaminophen Poisoning

(Paracetamol Poisoning; Acetaminophen Overdose; Paracetamol Overdose)


Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication. Tylenol is one brand of this medication. Acetaminophen poisoning is an overdose of this medication. It can cause damage to the liver.The overdose may happen as an accident or an intentional overdose. This can be a serious condition that will need medical care.


Acetaminophen poisoning may occur as a result of one large dose or several small overdoses over a long period of time. An overdose of acetaminophen can result from:
  • Intentional overdose such as a suicide attempt
  • Accidental overdose—may occur with unsupervised children, adults with altered judgment, or adults abusing alcohol
  • Use of combinations of different medications that contain acetaminophen
Certain chronic diseases can make you more vulnerable to this type of overdose. For example, people with liver damage can have acetaminophen poisoning at lower doses. Poisoning can also happen if acetaminophen is taken along with other substances that harm the liver, such as alcohol.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of acetaminophen poisoning include:
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Using multiple medications that contain acetaminophen
  • Suicidal behavior


At first, a person with acetaminophen poisoning may have no symptoms.When symptoms develop, they can include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Symptoms of liver failure:
    • Anorexia—no interest in eating
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Discomfort
    • Abdominal pain—especially in the upper-right portion of the abdomen
    • Excessive sweating
    • Jaundice
    • Confusion, sleepiness
Jaundiced Skin from Damaged Liver
Jaundice adult with label
Healthy liver on the left compared to diseased liver on the right that has caused jaundice of the skin.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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