Conditions such as backache, body pain, headache, and signs of cold, and flu are quite common. Also, pains and cramping of muscles during menstrual periods (among women) are equally common. There are many home remedies to treat most of these problems. For example – herbal oils (such as thyme oil, etc.) are increasingly used to treat painful periods / menstrual cycles. There are also drugs that can be taken to treat such medical conditions. One such drug is acetaminophen (available in the form of Panadol or Tylenol). But, can you take this drug while you are pregnant? It is important to know more about this, prior to starting a dosage plan.

Drugs such as acetaminophen are taken for a wide range of pains. The drug’s treatment range includes toothaches, back pain, cramping of muscles – experienced during periods, joint pains (especially, those caused by autoimmune conditions such as osteoarthritis), etc. Owing to its popularity, the drug is made in multiple forms, and also in many brand names. It hence becomes essential to read through all the instructions printed on the pack before starting to take it.

In general, acetaminophen is taken orally. You are advised to adhere to the treatment plan administered by your caregiving team; intake of additional doses or enhancing the strength (without the consent of your treating physician) is considered an unsafe practice. No two people with the abovementioned ailments / clinical conditions are given the same doses; instead, your dosage plan depends on your age, body weight, and severity of the underlying condition as well as the presence of prior ailments, if any. Acetaminophen is also given to children only when it is direly needed; in such instances, doses are dependent on the weight of your child.

Safe administration of acetaminophen

This drug is available as a pill and in a suspended form. Those who are taking liquid form must shake the bottle before using it. It is safe to use the ladle/dropper provided along with the pack. Never use a ladle or spoon from your household; such practices can lead to an overdosed condition. Acetaminophen is also made available as a chewable pill; it is recommended to chew the pill fully and then ingest it. Yet another form of this drug is the dissolving form; these pills are to be dissolved inside the mouth. Once the ingredients have fully dissolved, you are advised to drink water to swallow the drug.

Those who are taking this drug’s extended-release form must never bite or crush the pill. Such practices can release the entire properties of this drug’s active chemicals all of a sudden; as a result, you may encounter a few unwanted side effects. As a precautionary measure, acetaminophen (or other such pain meds) needs to be consumed soon after the first sign(s) of pain. Delaying the treatment plan may impair the drug’s efficacy and may make the key ingredients work much below their actual potential.

More importantly, this med is never taken over a longer period of time. For managing fever or other related discomforts, the medication plan never exceeds 4 days. In some cases, this drug is taken for a week or 10 days only if your caregiver recommends such a plan. In the case of children, the typical dosage plan never exceeds 5 days.

Is it safe to take acetaminophen while pregnant?

This drug is unlikely to cause any major side effects. In some remote cases, unwanted/adverse reactions such as inflammation of skin, rashes, or swelling of facial parts have been encountered by a small percentage of users. In some very rare cases, extreme levels of drowsiness, feeling very dizzy, or respiratory conditions (such as wheezing, gasping, or shallowness of breath) have been witnessed. In such cases, you are advised to seek clinical attention – preferably in a healthcare setting – without much delay. Those in the US may call 911 as quickly as possible; you may also reach out to the helplines of the food and drug administration (FDA). It is a vital thing to know that the FDA runs a helpline service to ensure timely medical help and also to record possible side effects of drugs this federal agency has cleared. People who are residents of Canada may either call Health Canada or reach out to a local poison control center as soon as they possibly can.

Those who are pregnant are advised not to take this drug without the care and supervision of a qualified clinical practitioner. This drug is usually not prescribed during the advanced stages of pregnancy. Though clinical studies are limited to the likely damages it can cause to the fetus, it is a safe practice to stay away from this drug during pregnancy. Those who are planning to get pregnant (while using acetaminophen) may be advised to use suitable contraceptives. Your gynecologist may recommend a wide range of non-hormonal contraceptive options – such as vaginal rings, skin patches, etc. to choose from. Women who are nursing a newly born infant must know that the active chemicals of this drug may get into breastmilk. Hence, women who are breastfeeding must tell their physician about their lifestyle prior to taking this drug.

It is important to remember that the abovementioned list of side effects / adverse reactions does not form a complete list. It is hence possible to encounter a few unknown or unlisted discomforts. Upon sensing one or more such side effects, you are advised to reach out to the caregiving team immediately. It is equally essential to remember that your caregiver has prescribed this drug as its benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or allergies. For all additional information about acetaminophen, it is a good practice to talk to your treating doctor/pharmacist.

In sum, this med is generally not administered if you are pregnant. Those who are planning to become pregnant are advised to use contraceptives. Also, breastfeeding women are not advised to take this med – as its active ingredients may enter into mother’s milk. It is hence a safe practice to talk to your treating doctor prior to starting your medication plan that involves the intake of acetaminophen.

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