The most common painkiller, used by millions of people to relieve pain, can turn out to be a killer if misused.
The paradox is, misuse occurs most unintentionally, as users do not understand the dosage instructions most of the time or do not bother to read them. The elderly face a strange problem of forgetfulness, and end up overdosing, especially when they do not remember their previous dosage.
Those experiencing extreme pain, resort to overdosing of pain medication. Toxic overdose is a high possibility in such cases as accumulation of this drug in the system can trigger acute liver failure.
Easy access of painkillers over the counter is a major challenge that needs to be addressed.
"Misunderstanding of the active ingredient and proper instructions for medications containing acetaminophen is common. Potential for errors and adverse events associated with unintentional misuse of these products is substantial. Given the prevalence of the problem, risk of significant adverse effects, and lack of a physician to guide decision making, we believe this to be a serious public health threat requiring urgent attention", the authors said.