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ETpro's avatar

What is the largest single dose of Acetaminophen (Tylenol) one can take>?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) July 18th, 2010

The largest recommended Acetaminophen dose is two 500mg pills every 4 hours and a maximum of 2 grams in a 24 hour period, I believe. But if one is taking a single dose in a 24 hour period, what is the largest dose a healthy adult, say 160 lbs. and with good liver function can safely take?

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10 Answers

shilolo's avatar

The daily maximum is closer to 4 grams, FYI. I don’t think you want to take more than 1 gram at once. The larger the dose, the higher the peak serum concentration, the more likely you are to suffer some complication.

knitfroggy's avatar

@shilolo Say, a person has a bad headache and they decide to take 2 grams of acetaminophen. That’s not really going to do any better than 1 gram would have, will it?

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, @shilolo

@knitfroggy Yes, higher doses do provide more pain relief. But of course, you don’t want to go so high that you start doing your liver damage.

shilolo's avatar

@knitfroggy With any medicine, pain meds too, there is always a tradeoff between the beneficial effects and toxicity. This is known as the therapeutic window. Each person is different, but I wouldn’t suggest using more than 1 gram at a time.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

I’ve (I’m about 185lbs, 6’1”) taken at least 1 gram of it in a migraine medicine in a single dose on multiple occasions. Each pill has 250mg of acetaminophen & I’ve taken 4 at once a few hours before bed & in the morning, if there is still a slight pain in my head, I take couple more. I don’t do that very often, maybe once every 4 months or so when a really bad migraine kicks in. It hasn’t killed me yet. :)

ETpro's avatar

@rpmpseudonym Thanks. I wish you luck managing those migranes.

Kraigmo's avatar

If you are taking multiple OTC pain pills, I think it is safer on your liver to take 800 mg Ibuprofen (That’s 4 Advils) all at once, as opposed to high dosages of acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen, I think, causes greater liver damage.

Flavio's avatar

@shilolo Of course, every one is different and the safest recommendation is no more than 2 grams per any 24 hour period. 4grams may not be appropriate for everyone reading this forum.

@rpmpseudonym you may be better off talking to a neurologist about a more permanent solution to your migraines. There are medications that you can take to prevent your migraines which would reduce the risk to your liver.

@Kraigmo the risk of taking large doses of ibuprofen is injury to the lining of your stomach or small intestine. As far as I know, there is no evidence that shows benefit of taking 800mg ibuprofen instead of 600mg. Also, whenever taking ibuprofen, you should always take it with food and/or milk.

Bottom line, over-the-counter meds are not benign. If you overdose on OTCs you can get injured. My personal philosophy for pain killers is to take the meds until the pain is MANAGEABLE. The goal should not always be to be pain-free.

shilolo's avatar

@Flavio 2 grams per day is the cumulative dose safely administered to patient’s with liver disease/liver failure awaiting transplant who cannot take opioids (which is most of them). Four grams/day is typically tolerated by most people.

ETpro's avatar

@Flavio I have a bottle of 500 mg caplets. It’s labeling warns against use without consulting a physician if you have a compromised liver, but dosage recommendation for healthy adults is no more than 8 caplets per day, or 4 grams.

Also, while on the subject of acetaminophen, we should not that if you drink alcohol in more than a very moderate amount, you should avoid the drug entirely, as the liver already has its work cut out eliminating another toxin and adding acetaminophen to its workload can overwhelm it,

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