Five Resources for Understanding Risks of Tylenol Overdose

By Minhee Cho, ProPublica
January 26, 2014 Updated: January 26, 2014

In September, the New York-based non-profit news organization ProPublica and the radio program This American Life, published a blockbuster report revealing the inherit risks of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

Each year, acetaminophen overdose sends as many as 78,000 Americans to the emergency room, and 150 people die from accidentally overdosing on “the pain reliever hospitals use most,” as the ads say.

As part of our investigation, we created five consumer resources to help you become more aware of acetaminophen toxicity, which the FDA now calls a “persistent, important public health problem.”

1. Drug Lookup 

Many common over-the-counter medicines contain acetaminophen, including Theraflu and Nyquil. This tool allows you to easily search for the drugs in your medicine cabinet and see just how much acetaminophen you’re taking.

2. Dose-o-Meter 

Mixing Tylenol and other medications can quickly put you over the recommended daily dose and in danger of damaging your liver. Select a group of medicines to see whether you’re still within a safe dosage of acetaminophen. 

3. Symptoms of Acetaminophen Poisoning 

Overdosing on painkillers can begin with nausea and, in extreme cases, end in death. Use our chart to see the phases of acetaminophen poisoning and its impact on your body.

4. Discussion: Risks, Safety Measures 

Read the responses from our reporter T. Christian Miller, liver disease specialist Dr. William Lee, and pharmaceutical marketing expert PeterMax Miller, from a live public chat that discussed how the FDA and drug company McNeil fought or delayed measures to protect consumers. 

5. Share Your Story 

Have you or someone you know suffered from acetaminophen poisoning? Help continue our reporting, and share your story here. And tell the FDA about your experience by filling out a consumer report form.

You can find all links to the webpages mentioned above at

From ProPublica.