Can someone tell me what the difference is between paracetamol, the painkiller of choice in Europe, and Tylenol? I know they both contain acetominaphen (pardon spelling) but my British paracetamol packets are absolutely smothered in cautions about liver damage, overdosing etc. that my Tylenol (and generic aceto) packets don’t seem too concerned about. Are they the same thing or aren’t they? And if so, why the difference in warning labels?

Never regret what seemed like a good idea at the time.

Are they the same thing or aren’t they? And if so, why the difference in warning labels?

The difference in warning labels,
depends on the regulations in effect, in that particular country, etc.

Are they the same thing?
That can be easily answered, if you look in the right place.
There are trade names for drugs, or brand names if you wish, but the actual chemical compound names, are always available, if you look deep enough.
The marketing names they use to try to generate brand loyality, vary. Both here in the US, and wherever else you may happen to be.

Run your search thru this location, ,and you will see that in example #6, ‘paracetamol’, is referenced to,
Acetomenofinnn, er, spell it right,
it means ‘tylenol’, under a different name.
Try it backwards, enter tylenol, and you’ll get all the other names it’s called,and if here are any other ‘drug’ ingredients present.

(Aspirins is aspirins, if you know what ah mean.)

Yeah, I know the laws about warning labels are different and all that. I probably should have added that there really does seem to be a greater concern in Britain about paracetamol - particularly the risk of overdosing. I went to university in London and I remember reading a lot of warnings about it in the newspapers and I believe they’ve actually restricted the number of pills a package of it can contain. This is not a country that is normally more paranoid about medications than the US, I mean you can get codeine without a prescription there, so it seemed odd that they would be so worried about (the equivalent of) Tylenol.

Never regret what seemed like a good idea at the time.

  1. There are subtle differences between paracetamol (Europe) & Acetaminophen (US) OTC pain-relivers.

  2. Both, however, have a nasty side effect. the liver can rapidly break them down to intermediate byproducts that can take longer clear. There intermediate byproducts, if they build up, can be toxic to the liver.

Let’s a 14 year-old girl decides life’s not fair & she wants LOTS of attention. She takes 100 tablets of tylenol, because everyone knows how safe tylenol is… She falls asleep & wakes up the the next morning, and gee, nothing’s happened & now she realize the she feels kind of foolish over what she did the night before, and says nothing to anyone. Her “crisis” gets resolved that next day & everything looks better. 2 days later, she starts feeling sick after eating. By the next day, she is really sick & her paretns take her in to be seen. Labs show acute liver failure. Without a transplant, she’s dead within a week. Whether she EVER wanted that or not.

There IS a treatment, but it has to be started within 24 hours to protect the liver.
I can’t explain the difference in labeling…

Sue from El Paso

Wow, that’s really scary. If that’s true, then they ought to tell kids that in school. I guess I was seriously close to an untimely death at 16.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
– Henry David Thoreau

Some countries never used paracetamol/aceominophen for children. It was of course pushed a lot here, when the aspirin problem was noticed. Now you can find childre’s Motrin(ibuprophen), which, however, upsets some people’s stomachs.

The main risk with Tylenol is when consumed together with alcohol.

Actually, alcohol & tylenol have an interesting relationship…

If a person uses alcohol regularly, it “speeds up” the liver’s ability to break tylenol down the toxic intermediate byproducts. It doesn’t affect the rate limiting step which clears these toxic byproducts. So… a person who consumes alcohol regularly is at higher risk for liver damage with tylenol.

A person who only took in a large quantity of alcohol at about the same time as the tylenol, might actually have slower breakdown of tylenol, as the drug clearing enzymes of the liver are also coping with the alcohol. I am NOT, repeat NOT, advocating taking a liter of hooch with 100 tylenol tablets, & saying that the alcohol will magically protect you… I am just saying that theoretically, you might kill your liver less slowly than someone who just took the tylenol…

Sue from El Paso

Oh Jesus. So what’s a person to do who (a) drinks pretty often and (b) is allergic to aspirin and ibuprofen? Start saving now for the liver transplant?

Never regret what seemed like a good idea at the time.

#1 - I heard the “girl fakes suicide with tylenol and actually kills herself” story when I was in high school - twenty years ago(I did not want to think about that!)

Ruadh - how much is “drink pretty often”? As I understood it, you pretty much have to be a borderline alcoholic, or be taking the acetominophen with your margaritas for it to be a problem.

Only your doctor knows for sure…
If you’re worried, ask her.

No Problem :slight_smile:

If you take tylenol in recommended quantities (10 regular, 6 extra-strength, ~3250 mg/day), you are in no danger of damaging your liver from tylenol. The alcohol is another story…

Sue from El Paso