Are You Acetaminophen-Savvy?

Answer Key Download PDF


  1. An over-the-counter (OTC) medicine can be purchased:
    ✓  Without a doctor’s prescription
    ✓  Remember that OTC medicines are powerful, even though they can be purchased without a prescription.
  2. How often do you follow/read the dosage instructions on the medicines you take?
    ✓  Always read and follow the dosage instructions on the medicines you take.
  3. Acetaminophen is an active ingredient in:
    Check all that apply.
    ✓  Tylenol®     ✓  Percocet®     ✓  Nyquil®, Dayquil®, etc.
  4. Products that contain acetaminophen are used to:
    Check all that apply.
    ✓  Reduce mild arthritis pain     ✓  Reduce fever     ✓  Relieve the pain of cold/sinus symptoms
    ✓  All of the above
    ✓  Prescription and OTC medicines that contain acetaminophen are used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to the common cold, head ache, backache, toothache, minor pain of arthritis, muscular aches, premenstrual and menstrual cramps. These medicines also temporarily reduce fever
  5. All OTC pain relievers work in the same way to relieve pain.
    ✓  False

    ✓  There are two basic types of OTC pain relievers:

    • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): include aspirin, ibuprofen-medicines such as Motrin® or Advil® and naproxen sodium such as Aleve® and ketoprofen such as Orudis KT®. NSAIDs prevent the body from producing prostaglandins – substances that cause our blood vessels to dilate – otherwise known as swelling. Prostaglandins also increase our sensitivity to pain. That’s why when we get hurt due to a sports injury for example, we often take NSAIDs to reduce pain and swelling. The downside of these particular medicines is that while they are blocking pain, they also block prostaglandins’ ability to protect the stomach lining – taking too many NSAIDs may cause gastrointestinal problems.
    • Acetaminophen-containing products: include Tylenol®, Nyquil® and Robitussin®. All of these pain relievers have unique chemical structures and interact with different parts of the body. Medicines containing acetaminophen work with the brain’s pain centers and are used to reduce pain and fever. These medicines don’t block prostaglandins, and therefore don’t cause gastrointestinal distress.
  6. Please tell us if you agree; neither agree or disagree; or disagree with the following statements:
    Statement You should have said: Agree Strongly because
    Acetaminophen products are serious medicines and can do serious harm if misused. OTC and prescription medicines that contain acetaminophen are important medications that must be taken as directed. Not doing so can lead to serious health consequences.
    Taking more acetaminophen than directed may cause liver injury. Taking more acetaminophen than directed can cause liver damage – a serious side effect that may not be immediately apparent.
    Severe liver damage may occur if you drink 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day while using acetaminophen. Drinking 3 or more alcoholic beverages every day while taking acetaminophen can increase the risk of severe liver damage.
  7. If I need to know what ingredients are in my medicines, I:
    ✓  Ask a pharmacist     ✓  Ask a doctor     ✓  Read the label
    ✓  Start with the label, and if you’re not sure what to do from there, contact your healthcare professional or pharmacist.
  8. I should talk to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before taking a medicine if:
    ✓  I’ve been prescribed other prescription medicines     ✓  I am taking other over-the-counter medicines
    ✓  You want to be sure that the medicines that you’re taking do not interact with each other. A visit to the pharmacist or a call to the doctor should alleviate this problem.
  9. When I decide to take an over-the-counter medicine, I:
    ✓  Read and follow the label dosage directions
    ✓  Always follow what’s written on the label; and when in doubt, ask a pharmacist or healthcare professional.
  10. If my symptoms do not improve after taking an over-the-counter medicine, I:
    Read and follow the label dosage directions
    ✓  Talk with a healthcare professional before taking more
    ✓  Never double-up on the dosages of medicine unless you’ve been advised to do so by a healthcare professional.
  11. If I need advice about a medicine, I go to:
    ✓  Student health center (doctors, nurses)     ✓  My doctor or pharmacist
    ✓  While you may think that your parents, Resident Advisor or friends are best suited to give you advice about medicine use, the safest approach is to consult a medical professional.
  12. Where on-campus have you gone to get health-related information?
    Check all that apply.
    ✓  Student health center     ✓  Student counseling center     ✓  Cafeteria     ✓  Book store
    ✓  Message boards     ✓  School television or radio station     ✓  School website
    ✓  School newspaper
    ✓  Look for acetaminophen-safe messages everywhere – from your student health center and your dorm to your school’s website.
  13. Where off-campus have you gone to get health-related information?
    Check all that apply.
    ✓  Local doctor’s office     ✓  Local pharmacy     ✓  Newspaper     ✓  Local TV or radio
    ✓  All of the above should have information about acetaminophen safety. And if they don’t, take this Guide and these materials to them!
  14. Where online have you gone to get health-related information?
    Check all that apply.
    ✓     ✓  Online news sites     ✓  Wikipedia     ✓     ✓  Search engines
    ✓  Facebook     ✓  Twitter
    ✓  Acetaminophen safe-use messages are everywhere. All you have to do is look for them!

Also check out the Additional Resources in this Guide for new and relevant information about acetaminophen safety.