13 Medications You May Not Realize Contain Acetaminophen

For those who haven’t been paying attention — either in life generally or to new reporting on Tylenol regarding the potential dangers of acetaminophen — it’s time to snap to. Because I’m sure I’m not the only one reading the new report about children dying from Tylenol overdoses to feel like I’ve been a bit out of the loop on acetaminophen. And in this scenario, confusion can lead to accidental overdoses.

ProPublica’s extensive report (and its companion piece in a recent episode of This American Life) calls attention to just how easy it is to take too much acetaminophen. It’s especially dangerous because the report and some medical experts claim that even taking a small amount over what you’re supposed to can be fatal.

During the TAL broadcast, the narrator rattles off a list of common drugs that don’t carry the Tylenol name, but that you might pick up at the pharmacy to treat a variety of conditions — and not even be aware that they contain acetaminophen.

Even though it says as much on the label, how often do you really read labels closely? Perhaps you do, but weren’t aware that you should not be taking more than one product containing acetaminopen at a time. You could think, “Oh, I’m taking Tylenol for pain and then [insert product with acetaminophen] for [insert other symptom to be treated]. In fact, ProPublica reports that 35% of Americans think it’s safe to mix acetaminophen products.

Therefore we’d like to bring to your attention:
13 Everyday Medications You Might Not Realize Contain Acetaminophen* (see note)

Over-The-Counter:
1. NyQuil and 2. Dayquil
3. Robitussin**
4. Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels
5. Benadryl**
6. Midol
7. Sudafed**
8. Theraflu
9. Vicks
10. Zicam**
Prescription:
11. Lortab
12. Hydrocodone Bitartrate
13. Vicodin

*(NOTE: This is by no means a complete list, neither is this more comprehensive list on Tylenol’s site, so be sure to always check labels for acetaminophen content. Many products may bear different brand names or be generic versions,  and some versions of medication bearing these brand names might not contain any acetaminophen. So really, just check all those labels and when in doubt, consult your physician.)

**Depends on the formulation

Use Only As Directed [ProPublica]
505: Use Only As Directed [This American Life]