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How Much Tylenol Is Too Much?

Posting Date: 08/29/2005

Q. I take six Tylenol Arthritis Pain pills every day. They contain 650 mg each of acetaminophen. I read recently that acetaminophen can increase blood pressure. Should I worry?

A. You are taking the maximum allowable daily dose of acetaminophen (3,900 mg daily). Recent research has shown that routine use of as little as 500 mg of this pain reliever daily may elevate the risk of developing high blood pressure for some women.

The Nurses? Health Study has been following thousands of women for decades. Those who relied on acetaminophen nearly doubled their likelihood of developing higher blood pressure within a three-year period (Hypertension, August, 2005). Regular use of ibuprofen and naproxen also raised the risk of hypertension.

Another study found that regular use of acetaminophen might also increase the risk of kidney disease. And too much acetaminophen, especially when combined with alcohol, may put a strain on the liver.

If you read the label carefully you will find that you should not take this much acetaminophen for more than 10 days unless you are under medical supervision. Please discuss the new findings with your physician.

Q. Is it beneficial to eat yogurt when taking antibiotics? Doctors don't seem to mention this when prescribing such drugs.

A. Many broad-spectrum antibiotics can upset the digestive tract by killing off good intestinal bacteria. Swallowing live yogurt cultures or probiotic supplements may reestablish proper balance.

There is one caution, however. The calcium in yogurt may interfere with the absorption of certain antibiotics. Wait at least two hours after taking your medicine before eating yogurt.

Q. You frequently write about the plight of the elderly and the high cost of their prescription drugs but you make no mention about the rest of the population.