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Acetaminophen-the Unknown Killer

Colleges and Universities across the country don’t inform students of the perils associated with combining acetaminophen and alcohol. This article explains the problems, and gives an explanation as to why schools ignore it.

Last Thursday I went to the hospital for a check-up. As expected, the doctor said I would probably live forever. I don’t want to brag, but if you created a player on a video game, I’d be the avatar.  I’ve got an intramural flag-football game tonight, and it’s for the championship.  Needless to say, I’m all in. Only problem is I rolled my ankle in the student section on Saturday going bonkers when John Hubert broke that ninety-five yard run.  No worries though.  I’m on a regular dosage of Tylenol to help relieve the pain. Not reckless pill popping…just enough to allow me to perform like an All-Star.  After we win, I plan on partying real hard with my teammates.  I’ll either be at the police station in hand cuffs, or passed out in the front yard.  It’s a toss up.

Fast-forward two days, and I’m finishing up this article from a hospital bed. I’ve got severe damage to the all-important liver and kidney organs, and Doc says my chances of surviving are plummeting.  All this stems from me taking too much of an acetaminophen-based product, and combining it with alcohol. Acetaminophen is the key ingredient in common over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol or Nyquil. The physicians didn’t get into specifics, but basically, I’m going to die from acute liver failure.

This story isn’t completely accurate. Truth be told, I’m pretty chunky. I’m about as clumsy as a guy with two left feet, and I’ve got low odds of being selected for a Red Rover game. But the moral still holds true. It’s a scenario that is routine on college campuses across the country. Kids freely use products loaded with acetaminophen, unknowingly setting themselves up for disaster. Education for this type of abuse is rare, and practically every student that I asked said they had no idea there were negative side effects. In fact, most students said the opposite. In other words, lots of students with a hangover treat it with acetaminophen-based meds.

Scientifically, a hangover is actually your body still absorbing alcohol, meaning your liver is being forced to use coveted enzymes for alcohol break down. Combined with residual alcohol in your body from drinking, nearly every hangover remedy has severe side effects. So, even though you are done drinking, Dr. James Lehman of Mercy Regional Hospital says that, from a scientific approach, when you have a hangover, you are “still drunk” and that the best remedy is “time and water.” The use of acetaminophen-based products to cure a hangover cannot only be unhealthy, but deadly.

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