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How Long Does It Take For Tylenol To Work

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 17, 2020
How Long Does It Take For Tylenol To Work
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Tylenol, active ingredient acetaminophen, is a commonly used over-the-counter drug that is indicated for reduction in pain and fever. It is also found to be effective in treating other minor ailments in the body, such as cold, toothache, muscle ache, backache, headache and arthritis. Another term for acetaminophen is paracetamol, its common usage outside the USA and other countries were Tylenol is sold. It is a very commonly used pain killer and fever reliever. If you have taken Tylenol and are waiting for it to kick in, read this oneHOWTO article to find out how long does it take for Tylenol to work, along with other necessary information.

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  1. Active ingredient in Tylenol
  2. How Tylenol works
  3. Various formulations of Tylenol
  4. How long does Tylenol take to start working?
  5. Overdose of Tylenol
  6. Things to consider before taking Tylenol
  7. When should you stop taking Tylenol

Active ingredient in Tylenol

The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. It works by elevating your body’s pain bearing capacity so that you feel better. Acetaminophen is an antipyretic and analgesic, which works quickly to alleviate fever and pain. Because of its high rate of effectiveness as a mild pain reliever, it is available in a number of formulations for addressing different issues, including Tylenol Children’s, Tylenol Cold, Tylenol Sinus and Tylenol Extra Strength.

How Tylenol works

Tylenol contains acetaminophen that works by slowing down the production of prostaglandins. These are chemical messengers produced in the body as a response to illness or injury. By blocking the functioning of prostaglandin, acetaminophen helps in reducing pain. For your information, prostaglandins are known to be responsible for triggering swelling and inflammation in the body tissues. Although Tylenol does not have anti-inflammation effects, it causes less stomach irritation as compared to other similar drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.

Various formulations of Tylenol

In addition to the oral tablets and syrup, effervescent tablets of the medicine are also available, which you have to dissolve in water before drinking the mixture. Tylenol also comes in the form of chewable tablets that you have chew properly before swallowing. If you are using the rapidly dissolving tablets of the drug, you have to chew and keep it in your mouth until it gets completely dissolved. After that, you may swallow it with or without water. Extended release tablets (modified release tablets) are meant to release the medicine slowly after administration and should not be chewed or crushed. You may end up having some nasty side effects of the drug, as all of the contents of the medicine will be released in your body at a rapid pace.

How Long Does It Take For Tylenol To Work - Various formulations of Tylenol

How long does Tylenol take to start working?

How long Tylenol takes to work largely depends on your individual body, condition and overall health. It is not a magical drug, and takes some time to start showing results. When you take it, it first dissolves in your digestive tract, before entering your blood stream. Once the medicine enters your brain, it blocks the pain signals there and provides relief. When you take Tylenol on an empty stomach, it starts working in 15-20 minutes. But if you take it after meal, it may take 30 to 60 minutes to start being effective. However, it largely depends on the type of medical condition you are trying to resolve with Tylenol:

  • For fever: Takes around 30 minutes to start working
  • For toothache: Relieves toothache in around 15 minutes
  • For muscle ache: Starts working in around 15-20 minutes
  • For headache: Works after 5-10 minutes of taking the medicine
  • For children: Kids will start feeling better in around 15-20 minutes of taking the medicine

Just like any other medicine, Tylenol also takes some time to start working and show effects. The body’s healing process takes time and you should never make a mistake of taking a Tylenol overdose for immediate results. Tylenol overdose is dangerous, and can lead to serious liver damage, and even death. So, be cautious and take the medicine only under prescribed limits. On an average, Tylenol effects stay in your body for 4-8 hours.

Overdose of Tylenol

When you are planning to take Tylenol, you should never take more than 1000mg in a period of four hours, not exceeding 4000mg in 24 hours. Taken usually to relieve pain, fever and aches associated with flu and cold, manufacturers have reduced their dosage with an aim to prevent drug overdose related deaths.

If your physician has prescribed you Tylenol, they should have told you the recommended dosage. But if you are taking it over-the-counter, you must refer to the outer packaging to see how much you can take it as per your age and medical condition. Rush to seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms after taking Tylenol:

  • Stomach pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Clay colored stools
  • Nausea
  • Itching

In order to avoid any serious side effects of the medicine, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions or the recommended dosage on the label while taking it. If you are taking it in suspension form, shake the bottle well before use so that the medicine gets distributed evenly. Use a measuring spoon or medicine cup to measure your dosage. If you are giving this medicine to a kid or an elderly patient, see the suggested dosage for their age bracket. If you are using its liquid form, measure the dosage with a measuring dropper or oral syringe.

Things to consider before taking Tylenol

Tylenol is an effective and relatively safe analgesic medicine. It is helpful in relieving a number of conditions, but can cause serious side effects if more than recommended dosage is taken.

There are certain other considerations to keep in mind while taking Tylenol:

  • Inform your physician if you have allergy to acetaminophen. If so, he may suggest you some alternative drug
  • If you are suffering from liver disease or if you have been taken for rehabilitation due to alcohol abuse, then you should take Tylenol only after physician’s prescription
  • Pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers should not take Tylenol without consulting with their doctor. You should also take caution if you are trying to get pregnant
  • Tylenol should not be given to children less than 2 years of age
  • Seek immediate medical help if you notice rashes, hives or swelling after taking the medicine
  • Tylenol may affect the results of urine or sugar test. So, you should refrain from taking it if you are going for any such test. If you are using this medicine on a regular basis, then it is imperative to tell your doctor or lab physician about it
  • While taking Tylenol, do not drink alcohol as it may further increase the risk of having liver damage. Also avoid taking it with any other medication used for relieving cold, pain, sleep or allergy
  • Since acetaminophen is present in many other medicines, taking them along with Tylenol can lead to an overdose, and lead to serious side effects

When should you stop taking Tylenol

Tylenol is a helpful drug that can relieve a number of conditions. But you should not take it if your fever lasts for over 3 days, if you feel the pain even after 7 days of using Tylenol or if your symptoms persist or worsen. This is an indication that the condition can be treated with Tylenol, and you need to seek professional medical attention. You should not take Tylenol at all if you are suffering from a liver or kidney disease. If you take more than 3 drinks of alcohol everyday or if you are already taking a medicine that contains acetaminophen, you should check with your physician. Combining alcohol with acetaminophen can double the risk of developing kidney disease. Since acetaminophen can reach the fetus and pass into breast milk, pregnant women and nursing mothers should never take this medicine without medical advice.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How Long Does It Take For Tylenol To Work, we recommend you visit our Drugs & supplements category.

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Paul Clark Van Keuren
GREAT, very readable, clear
OneHowTo Editor
Glad to help!
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