Drugs Q & A

What is the Active Ingredient in Tylenol?

An active ingredient refers to the ingredient in a drug that is biologically active. The similar terms active pharmaceutical ingredient and bulk active are also used in medicine, and the term active substance may be used for natural products.

According to the FDA, active ingredients also includes those components of the product that may undergo chemical change during the manufacture of the drug product and be present in the drug product in a modified form intended to furnish the specified activity or effect.

What is the Active Ingredient in Tylenol?

The active ingredient in Tylenol is Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen in the USA. Acetaminophen relieves mild-to-moderate pain, headache and fever. You can use acetaminophen to relieve mild or moderate pain. This is usually pain from colds, sore throats, headaches, body or muscle aches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, or toothaches. You can also use it to reduce fever.

It’s not fully known how acetaminophen works. It doesn’t reduce swelling or inflammation. Instead, it’s thought that it blocks the release of certain chemicals in your brain that signal the sensation of pain.

What side effects can the active ingredient in Tylenol cause?

Tylenol may cause side effects. Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking Tylenol and call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical attention:

  • red, peeling or blistering skin
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Tylenol may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

Tylenol Safety Information

Taking too much Tylenol can cause liver damage, sometimes serious enough to require liver transplantation or cause death. You might accidentally take too much Tylenol if you do not follow the directions on the prescription or package label carefully, or if you take more than one product that contains Tylenol.

To be sure that you take Tylenol safely, you should

  • not take more than one product that contains Tylenol at a time. Read the labels of all the prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking to see if they contain Acetaminophen. Be aware that abbreviations such as APAP, AC, Acetaminophen, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, or Acetam. may be written on the label in place of the word Tylenol. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you don’t know if a medication that you are taking contains Tylenol.
  • take Tylenol exactly as directed on the prescription or package label. Do not take more Tylenol or take it more often than directed, even if you still have fever or pain. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not know how much medication to take or how often to take your medication. Call your doctor if you still have pain or fever after taking your medication as directed.
  • be aware that you should not take more than 4000 mg of Tylenol per day. If you need to take more than one product that contains Tylenol, it may be difficult for you to calculate the total amount of Tylenol you are taking. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver disease.
  • not take Tylenol if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks every day. Talk to your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking Tylenol.
  • stop taking your medication and call your doctor right away if you think you have taken too much Tylenol, even if you feel well.

Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you have questions about the safe use of Tylenol or Tylenol-containing products.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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