The commonly used medication acetaminophen reduces pain and fever. The drug can be packaged in several tablet forms, each of which has its own specific mode of delivery. Many pharmaceutical companies use the drug in painkilling products, and sometimes a product contains other medications in addition to acetaminophen. Another name for acetaminophen is paracetamol.
Acetaminophen tablets can be designed for consumers to swallow whole, to chew or to let melt in the mouth. Some acetaminophen tablets release the drug slowly over a long period of time after being swallowed whole. This drug is suitable for children, so some tablets are especially designed for kids, with lower doses than a regular adult tablet.
A typical dose of acetaminophen is 325-650 milligrams for adults or children more than 12 years old every four to six hours. An adult should not take more than 4 grams in a 24-hour period. Children younger than age 12 age typically should take less than this. The drug might be suitable for children as young as 3 months old, although younger children might not be able to swallow or chew a tablet, so it is best to give it to them in a suppository or droplet form.
Children's acetaminophen tablets generally contain 80-160 milligrams of the active ingredient per tablet. Adult tablets usually contain higher doses, typically about 325-500 milligrams per tablet. Tablets with a 500-milligram strength might be labeled "extra strength," but some might not. The adult long-lasting acetaminophen tablets can contain a higher dose, usually of about 650 milligrams per tablet, because the tablet releases the dose slowly over a period of hours.
Acetaminophen is a general household painkiller that alleviates low levels of pain and reduces fever. The drug also benefits people with headaches, menstrual pain and other aches. Acetaminophen might also alleviate pain from osteoarthritis. Some tablets are formulated especially to relieve certain types of pain. Acetaminophen is so commonly used by manufacturers for over-the-counter painkillers, so there is a wide variety of brands available.
Some acetaminophen tablets also contain one or two other active ingredients. Caffeine is a common addition, and it helps combat any drowsiness caused by the medication. Additions with painkilling effects include aspirin, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Ephedrine, phenylephedrine or pseudoephedrine might also be added to tablets to ease sinus congestion. Some of these combination products might be available only by prescription.