ZocdocAnswersHow much acetaminophen is safe for a single dose?

Question

How much acetaminophen is safe for a single dose?

I am a 22 year old male who just had surgery for my elbow. I have been taking 1 10mg hydrocodone/500mg acetaminophen pill every 6 hours for pain the last 3 days. However, it seems it is not helping my pain as much as it was 3 days ago. Is it ok if I take 2 of these pills (1000 mg acetaminophen) at once? I am not taking any other medications.

Answer

Acetaminophen is a very effective pain medication that also has a significant toxicity if taken in excess. Regardless, I recommend that you discuss this with your orthopedic surgeon or the doctor who performed your elbow surgery. It is important to talk to your surgeon, as he or she often have an expected level of pain post surgery. Depending on your surgery, the amount of discomfort will vary. Doctors often prescribe pain medicine for the amount of expected pain. Therefore, if you have the need to take more pain medicine, you should check in with your doctor to ensure there is a not a problem that is causing excess pain. Acetaminophen is also known as tylenol. In general, for an otherwise healthy person 4000mg is the maximum daily acetaminophen that is safely allowed. This is in people without other liver problems and those in who are not drinking alcohol. Therefore taking 1000mg three times a day (or 3000mg total) should be ok (for a limited time). That being said, remember that many other over the counter medicines have tylenol (other cold medicines etc) so watch your total consumption. Also keep in mind hydrocodone component can cause many side effects. Overall, while probably safe, you should limit how much you take. Please discuss with your doctor prior to any change in medicines.

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

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