Health Watch — Dangerous Drugs: Risky Legal Drugs

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about dangerous drugs. Even legal drugs can cause problems if they’re used improperly. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s usually safe when used as directed. But it can be dangerous when used incorrectly.

Dr. William Lee, a liver expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of acute liver failure. Unfortunately, an overdose may not have immediate, obvious symptoms even though it can lead to liver failure, coma or even death within a few days if not treated. Researchers are developing a test to determine if the liver has been damaged by an acetaminophen overdose. The test detects an enzyme the liver produces when it’s been damaged.

Next: Avoiding acetaminophen overdose. 


May 2007

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