Long-Term Side Effects of Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

Tylenol, known generically as acetaminophen, is commonly used to reduce pain and fever. While it’s usually safe when taken as directed, using it for a long time or in high doses can lead to several health issues. Here’s what you should know about the long-term side effects of Tylenol.

Liver Damage

The most well-known risk with long-term or high-dose use of acetaminophen is liver damage. Your liver processes acetaminophen, and too much of it can overwhelm and harm the liver. This can lead to a range of problems, from mild liver enzyme elevations to severe liver failure. If you’re taking Tylenol regularly, watch out for signs of liver trouble, like yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice), pain in your upper belly, or unusually dark urine. These can be signs that your liver is struggling.

Kidney Problems

Though less common than liver issues, long-term use of acetaminophen can also affect your kidneys. If your kidneys are working overtime to filter out the medication, they might get damaged over time. You might notice changes in how often you pee, swelling in your legs or ankles, or other signs that your kidneys aren’t working right.

Blood-Related Issues

In rare cases, long-term use of acetaminophen can lead to blood-related problems, like low levels of certain blood cells. This can affect your body’s ability to clot blood or fight infections.

Gastrointestinal Effects

While acetaminophen is gentler on the stomach than some other pain relievers, long-term use might still cause gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or stomach pain.

Skin Reactions

Some people develop allergic reactions or skin issues like rashes after using acetaminophen for a long time.

Overdose Risk

It’s important to stick to the recommended dose of acetaminophen. An overdose can be very dangerous, especially for your liver.

Interaction with Other Medications

Acetaminophen can interact with other medications you might be taking. This can increase the risk of side effects, especially if those medications also affect the liver.

Alcohol and Acetaminophen

Mixing alcohol with long-term or high-dose acetaminophen use raises the risk of liver damage. It’s best to limit or avoid alcohol if you’re using Tylenol regularly.

Always follow the dosage instructions and talk to your doctor if you need to use acetaminophen regularly. They can help you weigh the benefits and risks and make sure it’s safe for you.

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