NY Expert: Be Aware of Unintentional Double-Dosing; Too Much Acetaminophen in Cold Medicines Can Damage Liver
February 2, 2015
by Mike Clifford
NEW YORK – Most adults in New York will sneeze and sniffle through up to three colds every year and experts say there are some things to keep in mind before heading to the drugstore for over-the-counter treatment options.
Stephen Ferrara, executive director of the New York State Nurse Practitioners Association, says many cold medicines contain acetaminophen and only so much of it should be taken in one day. He cautions people to be aware of unintentional double-dosing.
“Somebody takes acetaminophen for a fever, and that’s a great fever reducer but, they may also take a multi-symptom medication in addition to that,” Ferrara says. “They are essentially getting a double dose of acetaminophen.”
He says 4,000 milligrams is the daily limit for acetaminophen, so it’s crucial to always read the label and know the proper dosage to avoid possible liver damage. Ferrara suggests staying away from multi-symptom cold medicines. If you just have a cough he recommends sticking with just a cough remedy.
Ferrara says cold season is running about normal this year but flu cases are on the rise in New York. Not everyone agrees with the cost/benefits of vaccination, but for those who do, he says it isn’t too late to get a flu shot.
“The effectiveness this year has been somewhat less than in prior years,” says Ferrara. “But what we’re seeing is the people who do get their vaccinations, if they do get the influenza, the duration they get and the severity of their symptoms are shorter.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colds are the most common illness children experience. Experts say parents should call their doctor if symptoms last more than 10 days or if a child has a fever higher than 100.4 degrees.
Winter colds can be especially miserable, but medical experts caution to watch the acetaminophen content in cold medicines, as too much can cause liver damage. Photo credit: Meggi/FeaturePics.com.
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