Research from Ohio State finds that acetaminophen affects our emotions.
- Previous research has shown that acetaminophen dulls both our positive and negative feelings.
- The new study finds that those taking the drug consider risks they've been presented as less scary.
- Acetaminophen is an important everyday painkiller, so it's a good idea to factor in what it may be doing to our judgement.
Walking alone in a scary part of town<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDIzNjMzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDc0OTY5OX0.UZiwCiNAST22Zm-FSuhRgQlPAEQh57v7V-6N6dzctqc/img.jpg?width=980" id="c673a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e4393f1a54fad097172ee9e92a18d3da" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="person standing on bridge at night" />
Credit: Francois Hoang/Unsplash<p>As part of the study, individuals rated the degree of risk they perceived in a range of activities such as "bungee jumping off a tall bridge" and "speaking your mind about an unpopular issue in a meeting at work." They considered these activities to be less risky than a control group not taking the medication.</p><p>In the first of the study's experiments, 189 college students took either 1,000 mg of acetaminophen — the standard dosage for headache pain — or a similar-looking placebo.</p><p>After giving the acetaminophen time to take effect, those in the study ranked the level of risk they perceived to be associated with a series of activities, on a scale of 1 to 7. Among the activities were walking alone in an unsafe area after dark, bungee jumping, changing careers in one's 30s, and taking a skydiving class. The students taking acetaminophen considered these activities less risky than the control group.</p><p>An additional three studies in which individuals participated in an <a href="http://www.impulsivity.org/measurement/BART" target="_blank">online risk game</a> confirmed this result. In this game, you click to pump up a virtual balloon — as the balloon gets bigger, you earn more money. If the balloon pops, you lose your earnings.</p><p>The acetaminophen-takers proved to be bolder than their control counterparts. People in the control group pumped less and successfully cashed out more often. Recalls Dr. Way, "for those who are on acetaminophen, as the balloon gets bigger, we believe they have less anxiety and less negative emotion about how big the balloon is getting and the possibility of it bursting." They pumped more times, and indeed popped more balloons.</p>
Takeaway<p>Acetaminophen is an important weapon in the modern medical arsenal. Dr. Way points out that it's the CDC's <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">recommended go-to drug</a> for COVID-19 symptoms. In addition to calming our pounding noggins, surgeons typically prescribe acetaminophen, often with codeine, for post-surgical pain relief; your dentists may also suggest it. Its value lies in how well it works, and also that it's more gentle on our digestive systems than some other painkillers such as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonsteroidal_anti-inflammatory_drug" target="_blank">NSAIDs</a>, drugs that contain <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibuprofen" target="_blank">ibuprofen</a>. NSAIDs taken regularly pose danger to one's digestive tract.</p><p>Given that we're unlikely to stop taking acetaminophen for our aches and pains, the study represents a helpful little wakeup call. Perhaps we should pump the brakes a bit as we consider risks when we're taking acetaminophen. Take a beat, think twice, and only then carefully secure that bungee cord before you leap.</p>
Taking pain relief at the first feelings of a headache may mask an underlying condition. Use long-term treatments designed for migraines, says the director of Yale's Headache and Facial Pain Center.
Ingesting a nightly Advil or Tylenol is protocol for many. The general body aches, joint inflammation, and, especially, headaches that tag along on a stressful workday seem mitigated with a few hundred milligrams of pain relief. Of course, this only masks what could be a serious underlying condition.
A new study finds that one of the world's most popular painkillers affects the ability to empathize with the suffering of others.
Acetaminophen, the most common drug ingredient in the United States, found in over 600 medicines like Tylenol, has been found to reduce empathy in those who take it. According to a new study, the painkiller reduces the ability to relate to the physical and social pains experienced by others.