Health Watch - Tax Time: Headaches

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 tax season. A day struggling with tax forms could leave you with a headache, but be careful when you reach for pain medicine.

Acetaminophen, the medication commonly known as Tylenol, is a safe and effective painkiller when it’s used properly. It can do serious damage if it’s overused, and overuse is easy because it comes in so many medications, including cold medicines and arthritis treatments. Taking too much acetaminophen at one time can lead to liver damage, which can lead to liver failure or even death. About 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year from accidental acetaminophen overdose, and about 100 people a year die.

Dr. William Lee, a liver diseases expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says alcohol makes acetaminophen even more toxic while depleting substances that help protect against liver damage, so if you’ve taken acetaminophen for your tax-induced headache, you shouldn’t also reward yourself with a drink after you finish your taxes.

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April 2011


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