Tylenol (known generically as Acetominophen) is an important drug when your child has a headache, fever, toothache or muscle injury. It can help ease the pain and allow your child to get a good night's sleep.
Unfortunately, Tylenol is also a powerful toxin. Too much Tylenol can kill your child. Lauran Neergaard says:
McNeil [the maker of Tylenol] warns that mixing up doses of infant Tylenol drops with children's Tylenol liquid kills -- the two are not interchangeable. Yet poisonings still occur when parents mix up products and give babies a potentially deadly teaspoon-full instead of a safe dropper-full.
There are four easy ways for your child to get a deadly dose of Tylenol/Acetominophen:
The problem with Acetaminophen is that it affects the liver. The liver is the place where your body processes Acetaminophen to remove it from the bloodstream. This natural removal process is the reason why you have to take Acetaminophen every four hours or so. When you take too much Acetaminophen, it overloads the liver's ability to handle the drug. In the process, it creates a toxin that kills your liver, and you die several days later.
The thing that makes Acetaminophen dangerous, especially for children, is that the difference between a "dose" and a fatal "overdose" is small. Tse-Ling Fong, M.D. explains if you take twice the normal dose, liver damage will result. That does not give you much margin of error. It is very easy to improperly measure Tylenol drops and give your child too much. This is why 56,000 people end up in the emergency room every year due to the problem.
Be aware also that, if you have teenagers with depression, Tylenol is a common suicide drug. According to WebMD Medical News: