The liver is the organ that detoxifies many compounds that humans ingest, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and herbs. Could some of these chemicals result in drug-induced liver injury?

Do You Take a Pain Reliever That Could Harm Your Liver?

A recent review of drug-induced liver injury found that the common pain reliever acetaminophen is the most common culprit. Acetaminophen is also known as APAP and is often sold under the brand name Tylenol. In other parts of the world, it is called paracetamol. Nearly half of Americans with acute liver failure suffered liver injury from acetaminophen taken at high doses or for long periods of time. The maximum recommended dose is 4,000 mg/day for adults and 50-75 mg/kg/day for youngsters (Pharmacogenetics & Genomics, Aug., 2015).

Part of the problem, the authors note, is that acetaminophen is included in so many different medications that it can be hard for patients to determine that they may be taking too much. In addition, health care personnel may prescribe or administer drugs for pain without realizing they could put a person over the top for toxicity (Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, Dec., 2016).

Other Medicines That Could Damage the Liver:

Hundreds of other medications may also contribute to liver injury, so physicians and patients need to be alert for signs of liver trouble. Some possible culprits include methotrexate, anticonvulsants and antibiotics. Combining medications that may be toxic to the liver could increase the possibility of harm. Because diagnosis can be challenging, symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, fever, fatigue or jaundice should prompt laboratory testing of liver enzymes.

AACN, Oct-Dec, 2016

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  1. Elizabeth
    98232
    Reply

    1 year ago my husband had COPD and was prescribed zithromax for a cold. After 2 weeks of no improvement of “cold” the doctor prescribed another round of zithromax. He ended up in the hospital from neurotoxicity. He was very sick for weeks. They never really admitted it was that. Sadly this past Mothers Day they found him dead in his car, still running, picking up new prescriptions for an antibiotics and inhalers… 59 years old.

  2. Deanna
    17055
    Reply

    Need to know the reason for taking golden raisins soaked in gin.

  3. JAS
    U.S.
    Reply

    I had taken Extra Strength Tylenol for almost 30 years every month strictly for menstrual cramps. I never went over the limits ever and the only time I didn’t take it monthly was during my pregnancy and a few months after giving birth. I am a lifetime never-drinker, never-smoker. Could long term use — even within strict dosage guidelines create liver damage over the years?

  4. pookie
    US
    Reply

    Maximum dosage per day for tylenol should have been updated. It’s been changed to 3000mg/day.

  5. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA
    Reply

    I don’t take Rx drugs or much acetaminophen, but I DO take quite a few supplements — a regimen which I’ve carefully vetted according to study results and general medical info. Many people have eyed my “daily (big) handful” and cried, “My God… aren’t all those pills bad for your liver?!” Well, I look, feel and act astoundingly youthful for my age (almost 69), and still do massive physical stuff (like “extreme” skiing/hiking). People always think I’m in my late 40’s. So I must be doing something right!

    Still, I’ve always wondered if I am actually harming my liver, which must process all those supplements (most of ’em aren’t vitamins but herbs, amino acids and such). I also drink 2 beers a day, which my liver also has to process! I would love to find an affordable naturopath who could look at my supplement regimen and help tweak it for possible liver impact.
    I think there are probably many others in this same situation…?

  6. Pat
    WA
    Reply

    I was prescribed Arava for my auto immune condition. After being on it for only about 5 weeks, it caused liver damage. I was told to stop taking it immediately. I then had to take a detox med to rid it from my system. After two rounds of detox med, it finally was out of my system, but my liver function tests are still abnormal. It has been 3 months since I went off of Arava, and my liver is still damaged from it. I don’t believe it has been on the market long enough to know the outcome. In my opinion, this medication is poison. Do not let anyone you know or love take Arava!

  7. Paul
    Florida
    Reply

    Apparently just about any medicine taken in high does or long periods of time can present problems and should be avoided if possible.

  8. Kay
    Reply

    When my daughter was 17 years old she was taking a form of minocycline for acne called Solodyn. It triggered autoimmune hepatitis. She was so very sick and it took 9 months of Prednisone for her liver function to normalize. Please be aware that these drugs aren’t benign. I would recommend if your child is taking Solodyn or another minocycline drug for acne to have regular liver function tests done. The doctors say drug induced liver injury is rare from this drug. I don’t think it is so rare though. Doctors aren’t required to report this type of injury and I believe it happens more often than they would have you believe.

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