By Roxanne King, Contributing Writer
Tylenol has the reputation of being safe and gentle and it’s the go-to conventional medicine for almost everything. The truth is, Tylenol is not as safe as we’ve been told. There are a number of serious health concerns that are directly related to the use of this medication. The concerns are especially important for pregnant women and children.
Tylenol Use Linked to Asthma
New research suggests that pregnant women who take acetaminophen (the generic name for Tylenol) may be more likely to have a child with asthma. The article also states that this does not change the recommendation for Tylenol being the safest pain-killer to take during pregnancy, which is absolutely absurd in my opinion. The findings seem clear, the rates of asthma in these children were clearly not related to the underlying health condition but to the use of this drug. Tylenol may pose less of a risk then ibuprofen or aspirin but does that still make it safe?
Overdose is Dangerous
Even the FDA has warned that there is a high risk of overdosing on Tyenol and that it is extremely dangeorous. You may think there is no way that you would allow your child to overdose on something like this but the reason it happens is real. Many combination drugs that are sold for coughs and colds already contain acetaminophen and parents may not realize it. In this case, overdose may occur if separate doses of Tyenol are given in addition to the combination medication.
“An April 2011 report from FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) found that confusion caused by the different concentrations of liquid acetaminophen for infants and children was leading to overdoses that made infants seriously ill, with some dying from liver failure.”
Risk of Liver Damage
The reality is, acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver even at recommended doses when taken daily for just a couple of weeks. As you would imagine, that risk is even higher for children. The scary thing is the amount it takes for liver damage to occur. The margin between a safe dose of Tylenol and a potentially lethal dose is surprisingly small.
Now that you know the risks, the question is what can we use instead? The answer to that question really depends on the reason you want to use it.
A common use of Tylenol is as a fever reducer. First, consider that a fever isn’t really a bad thing, it’s the body’s natural way of fighting infection. Reducing a fever may not be in your best interest, but in cases where the fever is extremely high or very uncomfortable there are some natural remedies you can use. Homeopathic remedies such as Belladonna are effective and essential oils, like lavender can be helpful.
Of course, the other common reason for using Tylenol is for pain. Again, a suitable natural alternative will depend on the reason for the pain you or your child is experiencing. Common bumps and bruises or any type of external trauma really benefit from the use of Arnica which can be found in many herbal or homeopathic preparations.
I’d bet there are hundreds of reasons why people take Tylenol. It’s recommended so much, our culture almost sees it as a cure-all drug. With everything that I know about the risks of this drug, I can’t even entertain the thought of taking it or giving it to my children. It makes a lot more sense to look at the specific reason why Tylenol is being recommended and then use a natural remedy that suits the needs of the situation.
This is something I talk about in detail, with my colleague, Wendi Combes, RN, in our online class for parents who want to learn about natural ways to help their children get through illnesses and injuries. No parent wants their child to have to suffer through an illness so it’s really invaluable to learn about safe ways to help them feel better.