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Acetaminophen

Derived from coal tar, acetaminophen was first developed near the beginning of the twentieth century and soon became a key component in a variety of medications, such as Tylenol. Available without a prescription, over 100 brand names of acetaminophen-based compounds are available today.

View a second image of Acetaminophen

Similar to aspirin, acetaminophen can be utilized to treat a variety of aches, pains, and minor ailments. Though the exact processes involved are not fully understood, the compound is generally believed to provide temporary relief for such conditions by hindering the synthesis of substances necessary for the conduction of pain impulses through the body. Acetaminophen can also help reduce fevers by acting upon the temperature-regulating region of the brain, but does not possess any significant anti-inflammatory properties.

Especially popular in the United States and Great Britain, acetaminophen is often preferred to other analgesics, such as aspirin, because it is less likely to cause gastrointestinal irritation. However, other side effects, such as a yellowing of the skin and eyes, nausea, swelling, and loss of appetite, may occur, and overdose may have severe consequences. The consumption of excessive amounts of acetaminophen has been linked to acute, sometimes lethal, liver damage. The danger of such an occurrence is particularly pronounced in those who have a history of alcohol abuse or heavy drinking because such activity frequently alters the normal functioning of the liver.


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