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Often, when someone experiences a headache, muscular aches, backache, arthritis, the common cold, toothaches, menstrual cramps or fever, the sufferer might reach for a common over-the-counter drug known as Tylenol to relieve the symptoms. Tylenol is chemically known as acetaminophen. Often you will be able to find this drug on drugstore shelves. There are at least 30 preparations containing Tylenol and at least 100 drugs that contain acetaminophen, which is the generic name for Tylenol.

Acetaminophen is a drug that has many side effects and can cause adverse effects in the body that one should consider when taking this drug. In fact, there is not any drug that does not have side effects. It is therefore important for patients taking medications to read the warnings inserted in the packages.

Tylenol can interact with other drugs you might be taking for different medical conditions. In medical school, there are many courses about drug uses for many medical conditions. These drugs are numerous and often the physician will have to refer to a large book, the “Physicians’ Desk Reference,” for information on specific drugs.

The time allotted in medical school for the study of the pharmacology of the many drugs is not sufficient and therefore the physician might need to consult with a pharmacist about the interaction of the prescribed drug and other medications that the patient might be taking. The course work of the pharmacists takes approximately five years, the amount of time necessary for them to acquire the necessary knowledge about drugs and their chemistry. I have often had to call a pharmacist to make sure that the drug I was prescribing would not interact with a patient’s other prescriptions. At the end of their studies, pharmacists receive a Ph.D. in pharmacology.

The side effects of Tylenol are many and the following information should be taken seriously by those who are buying this drug off the shelf.

Don’t take Tylenol if you are taking any alcoholic beverage. It has been reported that this combination can cause liver damage.

Do not take Tylenol for muscle pains for more than seven days or for a fever for more than three days unless directed by a doctor.

Do not take Tylenol if you have breathing problems such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

Do not take Tylenol if you have glaucoma or enlargement of the prostate gland.