Tylenol is a pain and fever reducer, and since fevers often result from infection, it is common to wonder if antibiotics, which treat infections, can safely be taken with Tylenol.
While there are hundreds of antibiotics, it is generally considered safe to take Tylenol with antibiotics. However, it is recommended to check the drug interactions of each antibiotic, specifically those that affect the liver.
In this article, we will discuss when you would take Tylenol and antibiotics together and what to keep in mind if you are considering taking these two drugs at the same time.
Table of Contents
- About Tylenol
- About Antibiotics
- Can You Take Tylenol with Antibiotics?
- When Should You Avoid Tylenol?
- Overall, What Medications Should You Avoid While Taking Antibiotics?
- Key Takeaways
Tylenol is the brand name for a drug with the active ingredient of acetaminophen, which is a fever reducer and pain reliever. Tylenol is generally taken to relieve minor aches and pains by raising your body’s pain threshold, meaning you feel less pain. Additionally, it lowers fever by helping the body eliminate excess heat.
Some of the aches and pains that Tylenol may help with include:
- minor arthritis pain
- premenstrual and menstrual cramps
- muscular aches
Unlike other pain relievers, Tylenol is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), making it a better option for those with a history of stomach problems, those on aspirin heart therapy, and those with kidney disease.
Antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed medications and their role involves treating bacterial infections. Depending on the antibiotic, the mechanism of action can vary—some interfere with the bacteria’s ability to grow and multiply, whereas other antibiotics directly kill the bacteria.
Antibiotics may come as a cream, pill, liquid suspension, or even IV infusion, although this last option is generally reserved only for severe infections that require immediate antibiotic infusion.
Some of the bacterial infections that antibiotics commonly treat include:
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- strep throat
- E. coli
- whooping cough
- skin infections
However, for each infection, multiple antibiotics are viable options. At the same time, one antibiotic cannot treat every type of infection, although some can treat multiple infections and are aptly named broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Can You Take Tylenol with Antibiotics?
As a basic answer, yes, you can take Tylenol with antibiotics, and this pain reliever is not only a better option than other NSAIDs, but it is also generally better tolerated.
However, it is important to remember that there are hundreds of different types of antibiotics which treat different types of bacteria based on their mechanism of action. For example, some may treat bacteria affecting the kidneys, while others concentrate in urine, meaning they are most effective against bacteria in the urinary tract.
Since each antibiotic works differently and may treat specific areas of the body, this can influence whether taking Tylenol with them is alright.
Most notably, acetaminophen, and thus Tylenol, contains a liver warning. It can be especially harmful to the liver, causing liver damage, if taken alongside other drugs containing acetaminophen. Not only that, but because Tylenol affects the liver, taking it alongside an antibiotic that affects the liver could result in liver toxicity.
Additionally, those who take Tylenol alongside amoxicillin, which is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, may experience a greater risk of gingival bleeding.
When Should You Avoid Tylenol?
It is important to know about the considerations for Tylenol to be aware of when it should be avoided. For example, some people may have an allergic skin reaction to acetaminophen that causes blisters, skin reddening, and/or a rash. If you experience this type of reaction to acetaminophen, it is recommended to discontinue the medication and find an alternative pain reliever.
Furthermore, if you have liver disease or a damaged liver, it is not recommended to take Tylenol as it can also cause liver damage and may worsen your condition.
Before taking Tylenol, it is best to talk to your doctor about any medications, supplements, herbal products, or vitamins that you take, specifically if you take any anticoagulants, seizure medications (e.g., phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin), pain/fever/cold medication, and phenothiazines. Your doctor may need to alter the dosages of these medications or keep an eye on you for side effects.
Overall, What Medications Should You Avoid While Taking Antibiotics?
The medications to avoid while on antibiotics will vary based on the antibiotic you are prescribed. For example, those taking amoxicillin should avoid aspirin as research suggests that taking these two drugs together can decrease gut bacteria levels. This can not only make the aspirin less effective, but it can also result in unpleasant side effects.
The pain relievers termed NSAIDs can be taken while on antibiotics, but they are also more likely to cause problems because they can increase the risk of bleeding. Since some antibiotics also have this as a side effect, when taken together, this risk increases further.
Can you take Tylenol with antibiotics for UTI?
Some of the most common antibiotics for a UTI include trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, nitrofurantoin, and fosfomycin. No drug interactions have been seen between Tylenol and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or nitrofurantoin. As for fosfomycin, research has shown that taking acetaminophen alongside it may decrease fosfomycin’s excretion rate, which could lead to higher serum levels.
Is it OK to take Tylenol and amoxicillin together?
There are some potential side effects to be aware of when taking amoxicillin and Tylenol together. Most notably, Tylenol may significantly increase the risk of gingival bleeding when taken with amoxicillin. Still, taking Tylenol and amoxicillin together is generally considered safe, but it is always best to discuss it with your doctor first.
Tylenol is a commonly taken over-the-counter pain medication with the active ingredient acetaminophen. Not only does it help with minor aches and pains, but it can also help to lower a fever. Since one cause of a fever is infection, many may wonder if it is safe to take Tylenol alongside antibiotics.
While there are hundreds of different antibiotics, each with their own mechanism of action and infections they treat, it is generally considered safe to take Tylenol alongside them. Still, it is recommended to check for each antibiotic, as some, such as amoxicillin, may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with Tylenol, and others that affect the liver may cause Tylenol’s liver damage to be more severe.
In all cases, it is recommended to speak to your doctor and check drug interactions to lessen your odds of experiencing unpleasant side effects.
- Acetaminophen: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2023). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681004.html
- Can you take tylenol and antibiotics together. (2023). https://jpabs.org/misc/can-you-take-tylenol-and-antibiotics-together.html
- What is Acetaminophen: Uses, Precautions, How it Works, and More | TYLENOL®. (2023). https://www.tylenol.com/safety-dosing/usage/what-is-acetaminophen
- Descourouez, J. L., Jorgenson, M. R., Wergin, J. E., & Rose, W. E. (2013). Fosfomycin synergy in vitro with amoxicillin, daptomycin, and linezolid against vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium from renal transplant patients with infected urinary stents. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 57(3), 1518–1520. https://doi.org/10.1128/AAC.02099-12
- Squadrito FJ, del Portal D. Nitrofurantoin. [Updated 2023 May 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470526/
- Akhavan BJ, Khanna NR, Vijhani P. Amoxicillin. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482250/
- Patel P, Wermuth HR, Calhoun C, et al. Antibiotics. [Updated 2023 May 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535443/