What Is NAC and What Does It Have to Do With Acetaminophen?

Some of the most popular pain killers on the market are products that contain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol®. You’ll find this drug in other products as well, including some types of Alka-Seltzer®, NyQuil®, TheraFlu®, Execedrin® migraine relief products, Vicodin®, Darvocet®, and Percocet®.

When people take the recommended dosage of acetaminophen there seems to be very little risk involved. One of the challenges that people face is that if they are simultaneously taking a number of different medications, more than one of them could contain acetaminophen.

Because so many different products contain this medication, unless you scrupulously read the labels for every medicine you take (and perhaps have a calculator handy) it is possible to inadvertently overdose on acetaminophen.

Approximately 50, 000 patients per year go to US hospital emergency rooms because they have inadvertently taken too much acetaminophen. And about 500 people in the United States die every year due to an overdose of this drug.

How Much Acetaminophen is Too Much Acetaminophen?

Most manufacturers recommend that adults take no more than 4 grams of acetaminophen within any twenty four hour period. Four grams, or 4, 000 mg, would be the equivalent of taking eight extra strength 500 mg tablets per day.

Children should not be given more than ten to fifteen milligrams of acetaminophen more than four times per day.

And some researchers have maintained that if you drink alcoholic beverages you should not take any acetaminophen because of the potential dangers involved.

If somebody overdoses on acetaminophen sever liver damage could result.

Once of the challenges involved with such an overdose is that the victim may not even be aware that he or she has a problem. The typical symptoms – nausea and vomiting – are only temporary. They disappear rather quickly.

The victim even feels better for a few days. But by then their liver may be severely damaged.

In order to recover from an acetaminophen overdose an antidote needs to be administered within a relatively short amount of time – often within approximately ten hours.

What is NAC?

NAC is the abbreviation for N-acetylcysteine. NAC is a pre-acetylized form of an amino acid that our bodies produce naturally. N- acetylcysteine is more stable than the amino acid cysteine and is more soluble in water. It’s a free radical scavenger and also a very powerful antioxidant that helps to protect us from many harmful agents.

NAC As An Acetaminophen Antidote

NAC is also commonly administered to patients who have taken an overdose of acetaminophen or other hazardous compounds that include carbon tetrachloride, herbicides, and urethane. It’s also used as a treatment for exposure to heavy metals such as mercury or lead.

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