Acetaminophen is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fevers. Acetaminophen is also available in prescription medicines combined with other ingredients, and on some prescription labels it may be abbreviated as APAP. It will never be abbreviated and will always say acetaminophen on Drug Facts labels.
Acetaminophen can be the only ingredient in oral pain relievers and fever reducers or it can be found in medicines that contain more than one active ingredient to treat migraines. Acetaminophen can also be found in medicines that treat occasional sleeplessness, the multiple symptoms of the common cold, and symptoms associated with menstruation. For individuals who cannot take an oral medicine, acetaminophen is available in single-ingredient rectal suppositories.
Acetaminophen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to label directions. Because so many medicines contain acetaminophen, it is important to check the label to see which medicines contain acetaminophen and to never take more than the maximum daily dose listed on the label. You should never take more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at a time or use it for a longer period of time than what is recommended on the label. Taking too much acetaminophen can cause an overdose and may lead to liver damage.
If you ever have questions on your health or the health of a family member, talk to your healthcare provider.
Acetaminophen is one of the most common drug ingredients in America, found in more than 600 different medicines. The Know Your Dose campaign reminds you to follow four simple steps to use acetaminophen safely: 1) Always read and follow the medicine label; 2) Know if your medicines contain acetaminophen; 3) Never take two medicines with acetaminophen at the same time; and 4) Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.