ZocdocAnswersCan children's medicine work on adults?

Question

Can children's medicine work on adults?

I'm a middle-aged woman, and I'm feeling feverish. But the only medicine we have in the house is children's Tylenol. Would it work for me, or is it only appropriate for a children's dose?

Answer

The appropriate dosing for Tylenol (generically known as acteminophen) in adults is 650 - 1000 mg taken every four to six hours with a maximum of 4000 mg to be taken in any 24 hour period. Taking more than 4000 mg or taking lower doses combined with alcohol can lead to liver damage. Hence, no more than 4000 mg in a 24 hour period and do not take acetaminophen with alcohol. As for whether or not children's tylenol will work for adults - it will. You just need to increase the amount you take compared to what a child would take. According to the Tylenol website, there is 160 mg of acetaminophen in 1 teaspoon of Children's Tylenol. To get an "adult-sized" dose, you would therefore take between 4 teaspoons (4 x 160 mg = 640 mg) and 6 teaspoons (6 x 160 mg = 960 mg) every four to six hours. Please verify on the packaging that this is the dosing that you have. Also, be aware that some cold medicines are really combinations of medicines. For example, Tylenol Cold and Flu doesn't just contain acetaminophen. Therefore, you should only use the above logic as applied to a product that only contains acetaminophen. If it has any other "active ingredients" converting to adult dosing will get complicated, and I would recommend waiting until you can obtain regular Tylenol.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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