Acetaminophen / guaifenesin Side Effects
For the Consumer
Applies to acetaminophen / guaifenesin: oral packet
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
- A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
What are some other side effects of this drug?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to acetaminophen / guaifenesin: oral liquid, oral powder for reconstitution, oral tablet
Hepatic side effects of acetaminophen have included severe and sometimes fatal dose dependent hepatitis in alcoholic patients. Hepatotoxicity has been increased during fasting. Several cases of hepatotoxicity from chronic acetaminophen therapy at therapeutic doses have also been reported despite a lack of risk factors for toxicity.[Ref]
Alcoholic patients may develop hepatotoxicity after even modest doses of acetaminophen. In healthy patients, approximately 15 grams of acetaminophen is necessary to deplete liver glutathione stores by 70% in a 70 kg person. However, hepatotoxicity has been reported following smaller doses. Glutathione concentrations may be repleted by the antidote N-acetylcysteine. One case report has suggested that hypothermia may also be beneficial in decreasing liver damage during overdose.
In a recent retrospective study of 306 patients admitted for acetaminophen overdose, 6.9% had severe liver injury but all recovered. None of the 306 patients died.
A 19 year old female developed hepatotoxicity, reactive plasmacytosis and agranulocytosis followed by a leukemoid reaction after acute acetaminophen toxicity.[Ref]
Dermatologic side effects of acetaminophen have included rare reports of erythematous skin rashes. Acetaminophen associated bullous erythema and purpura fulminans have also been reported. Acetaminophen has been associated with a risk of rare but potentially fatal serious skin reactions known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP).
Dermatologic side effects of guaifenesin have included rare reports of rash.[Ref]
Gastrointestinal side effects of acetaminophen have included rare cases of acute pancreatitis.
Gastrointestinal side effects of guaifenesin have included stomach upset and vomiting with higher than recommended doses. Doses recommended for expectoration have rarely been associated with gastrointestinal upset.[Ref]
One study has suggested that acetaminophen may precipitate acute biliary pain and cholestasis. The mechanism of this effect may be related to inhibition of prostaglandin and alterations in the regulation of the sphincter of Oddi.[Ref]
Nervous system side effects of guaifenesin have occasionally included dizziness and headache.[Ref]
Hematologic side effects of acetaminophen have included rare cases of thrombocytopenia. Methemoglobinemia with resulting cyanosis has also been observed in the setting of acute overdose.[Ref]
Acute tubular necrosis usually occurs in conjunction with liver failure, but has been observed as an isolated finding in rare cases. A possible increase in the risk of renal cell carcinoma has been associated with chronic acetaminophen use as well.
A recent case control study of patients with end-stage renal disease suggested that long term consumption of acetaminophen may significantly increase the risk of end-stage renal disease particularly in patients taking more than two pills per day.[Ref]
Renal side effects of acetaminophen have included rare cases of acute tubular necrosis and interstitial nephritis. Adverse renal effects are most often observed after overdose, after chronic abuse (often with multiple analgesics), or in association with acetaminophen-related hepatotoxicity.[Ref]
Hypersensitivity side effects of acetaminophen have included rare reports of anaphylaxis and fixed drug eruptions.[Ref]
Two cases hypotension have been reported following the administration of acetaminophen. Both patients experienced significant decreases in blood pressure. One of the two patients required pressor agents to maintain adequate mean arterial pressures. Neither episode was associated with symptoms of anaphylaxis. Neither patient was rechallenged after resolution of the initial episode.[Ref]
Cardiovascular side effects of acetaminophen have included two cases of hypotension.[Ref]
Respiratory side effects of acetaminophen have included a case of eosinophilic pneumonia.[Ref]
1. Gursoy M, Haznedaroglu IC, Celik I, Sayinalp N, Ozcebe OI, Dundar SV "Agranulocytosis, plasmacytosis, and thrombocytosis followed by a leukemoid reaction due to acute acetaminophen toxicity." Ann Pharmacother 30 (1996): 762-5
2. Zimmerman HJ, Maddrey WC "Acetaminophen (paracetamol) hepatotoxicity with regular intake of alcohol: analysis of instances of therapeutic misadventure." Hepatology 22 (1995): 767-73
3. "Product Information. Tylenol Chest Congestion (acetaminophen-guaifenesin)." Johnson and Johnson/Merck Consumer, Fort Washington, PA.
4. Filipe PL, Freitas JP, Decastro JC, Silva R "Drug eruption induced by acetaminophen in infectious mononucleosis." Int J Dermatol 34 (1995): 220-1
5. "Product Information. Robitussin (guaifenesin)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Philadelphia, PA.
6. Lee WM "Medical progress: drug-induced hepatotoxicity." N Engl J Med 333 (1995): 1118-27
7. Shoenfeld Y, Shaklai M, Livni E, Pinkhas J "Thrombocytopenia from acetaminophen." N Engl J Med 303 (1980): 47
8. Perneger TV, Whelton PK, Klag MJ "Risk of kidney failure associated with the use of acetaminophen, aspirin, and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs." N Engl J Med 331 (1994): 1675-79
9. Kawada A, Hiruma M, Noguchi H, Ishibashi A "Fixed drug eruption induced by acetaminophen in a 12-year-old girl." Int J Dermatol 35 (1996): 148-9
10. Brown G "Acetaminophen-induced hypotension." Heart Lung 25 (1996): 137-40
11. Kondo K, Inoue Y, Hamada H, Yokoyama A, Kohno N, Hiwada K "Acetaminophen-induced eosinophilic pneumonia." Chest 104 (1993): 291-2
Not all side effects for acetaminophen / guaifenesin may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.
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