Do not be confused concerning the name “Tylenol.” It has a more common name which is acetaminophen. That is to say that if during the course of an ailment you have had to take acetaminophen to treat some symptoms (fever or mild pains), you have also taken Tylenol. Tylenol as a drug brand is found and sold in various forms under a lot of other generic names. What this means is that acetaminophen is simply one generic name for Tylenol which is the brand. The compound from which the name Tylenol was coined from is N-acetyl-para-amino-phenol (APAP). An interesting fact is that paracetamol and acetaminophen as words were also coined from this compound.

This chemical product is common for its use in the soothing of pain, reduction of fever, reduction of the associated symptoms of allergies, influenza, cold, menstrual cramps, cough, and headaches. Although Tylenol does not reduce inflammation per se, it is a common line of thought that it serves to inhibit the release of a certain chemical in the brain that makes one aware of the sensation of pain. This wide range of uses makes Tylenol a key or accompanying active ingredient in a lot of over the counter drugs. In effect, it is highly possible that at one point or the other you may have enjoyed the benefits of Tylenol even if you are or were unaware.

Acetaminophen or more commonly known in Commonwealth countries as paracetamol is the active ingredient in Tylenol. It serves majorly as a fever-reducing or antipyretic drug and a pain soothing or analgesic drug, it is used widely in over- the- counter preparations.

Some common allergic reactions associated with the use of Tylenol include:

  • Severe cases of itching
  • Chances of blistering or peeling of skin.
  • A certain difficulty swallowing
  • Hives
  • An unusual amount of effort put into breathing
  • Swelling of face or parts (tongue, lips or even the throat).

In very severe cases, the chances of considerable liver damage are not entirely out of the question. Intake of excessive amounts of acetaminophen could lead to acetaminophen poisoning. This affects the liver because after metabolism of the drug (in this case acetaminophen), a certain by-product is derived. When this by-product exists in quantities that can be unquestionably referred to as “too much,” then the liver could be implicated. But of course, this is only possible when an excess dose of the drug is ingested and not likely for regular doses. Some symptoms of damage to the liver include:

  • The pain felt in the upper right region of the abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pale skin
  • Jaundice (yellow coloration of skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine (tea colored), etc.

But now the question is, what precisely are blood thinners?

First what exactly are blood thinners? These are substances that prevent blood clotting or that prevent the formation of blood clots. Moreover, they tend to inhibit any existing clot from developing any further. They are useful because the formation of a clot in certain locations in the body could lead to severe adverse effects which could be referred to as dangerous clots. For instance, the formation of clots in the veins, arteries or even in the heart itself could lead to strokes, heart attack or could cause a blockage. They achieve this by causing the blood to flow much more freely while circulating through the veins and arteries. Blood thinners are extremely “volatile” medication. This is the case because they must be taken exactly as prescribed by the physician. Too little will not elicit the specific desired effect but taking too much can also cause severe cases of bleeding.

In the previous paragraph, it was mentioned that blood thinners function by making the blood flow more freely. This increase in fluidity serves to prevent the various cell components of the blood from binding together. They are usually employed in the treatment of various cardiac related diseases and defects. It has a lot of medical benefits, but it also has some potential dangers. The most common danger of blood thinners is that they make it extremely difficult to stop or alleviate bleeding in the case of a cut during their use.

Some situations which may arise that could make one an ideal candidate for the use of blood thinners include:

  • After a successful heart valve replacement.
  • The occurrence of congenital heart defects which are birth common birth defects involving a structural defect of the heart.
  • The presence of some certain blood vessel or heart-related diseases.
  • After surgery to eliminate blood clotting or reduce the chance of further complications due to blood clotting.
  • The occurrence of atrial fibrillation. This basically refers to abnormal heart rhythm.

Nevertheless, it is vital to acknowledge the fact that there are slight differences between blood thinners. Some blood thinners serve to lengthen the amount of time taken for the formation of the clot, these particular blood thinners are known as anticoagulants. They are administered orally and intravenously for stronger doses. While other blood thinners that are known as antiplatelet simply make it very difficult, almost impossible, for clots to form by keeping the platelets from joining together or from clumping. They are administered orally.

Examples of anticoagulants include Warfarin (Jantoven), Heparin (Lovenox, Fragmin, and Innohep), Fondaparinux (Arixtra), Edoxaban (Savaysa), Apixaban (Eliquis), Dabigatran (Pradaxa) and Rivaroxaban (Xarelto). While examples of antiplatelet medication include the well-known Aspirin; Dipyridamole (Persantine), Clopidogrel (Plavix), Prasugrel (Effient) and Ticlopidine (such as Ticlid).

We also have some natural blood thinners such as foods and oils rich in vitamin E including soybean, olive, spinach, corn, mangoes, peanut butter, broccoli, kiwis, sunflower seeds and tomatoes. Other natural blood thinners include celery seed, garlic, aniseed, and ginger. Be careful when taking these substances together with any blood thinning medication as their combined effect would exceed the desired therapeutic effect and affect it negatively.  Vitamin K sources (lettuce, cabbage, spinach, etc.) and some herbs and tea (ginseng, chamomile, clove, licorice, willow bark, etc.) could also interfere with the therapeutic use of blood thinners negatively when not properly used. Consult your physician for more personalized and detailed information depending on what particular blood thinner is prescribed for you.

Other side effects that could occur include:

  1. Discolored urine or feces (a hint of blood would be visible)
  2. Arbitrary or random bleeding from the gums
  3. Occasional nosebleeds
  4. Severe headaches or stomach aches
  5. Experiencing heavy periods (for females)
  6. Loss of hair
  7. Experiencing dizziness
  8. A feeling of muscle weakness
  9. Presence of rashes
  10. Vomiting blood or coughing it up
  11. Increased risk of internal bleeding following an accident, etc.

Although numbers 6 through 9 are rarer in occurrence than the rest.

Now that we have been briefly acquainted with both Tylenol and blood thinners, one might begin to wonder, what exactly led to the question “Is Tylenol a blood thinner?”

First and foremost, it would be important to mention the fact that Tylenol cannot really be considered as a blood thinner. We can say that Tylenol is not a blood thinner.

A certain class of anti-inflammatory drugs has been discovered to have blood thinning effects. These drugs could prove to be fatal if taken at the same time as other blood thinning drugs. The drugs in question are known scientifically as Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, which are known in short as NSAIDs. They could also be referred to as (NSAIAs) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics/agents or (NSAIMs) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs that could aid in pain alleviation and fever reduction (a characteristic that they share with Tylenol). But unlike Tylenol, NSAIDs could also reduce the chances of blood clotting and at sufficient doses could even decrease inflammation. From their title, one could rightly conclude that they are synthesized from steroids. They function by acting as enzyme inhibitors, majorly the cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2). These inhibited enzymes are those that originally, they are responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are biological mediators that are responsible for the inflammation effects surrounding blood clotting. They are also involved in stimulating thromboxane which is a vasoconstrictor (they also elicit platelet aggregation) that serve to reduce blood flow to the site of clot formation. Hence it could be said that NSAIDs function by inhibiting the effects of the COX enzymes thereby stopping the body from producing more prostaglandins. This would then lead to a reduction in pain and swelling at the injured site. Generally, we have two types of NSAIDs, the COX-2 selective and the non-selective. The COX-2 selective specifically inhibits the COX-2 enzyme which is responsible for inducing inflammation and pain. While the non-selective NSAIDs on the other hand, inhibit both the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. This means that in addition to alleviating inflammation and pain, the non-selective NSAIDs also thin the blood.

This inhibition of the COX enzyme by all NSAID types considerably raises the chances of occurrence of kidney diseases and by extension, the chances of a heart attack occurring. COX-1 assists in a lot of physiological regulation processes. Such as its vital role in the lining of the stomach, it ensures that the stomach mucosa is not eroded by its own acids. Hence when the activity of the NSAIDs inhibits COX-1, it would be reasonable to assume that corrosion of the gut lining should occur. This is the reason why one of the most common side effects of using NSAIDs is gastric ulceration or bleeding. This gastric bleeding is more severe with ulcer patients or patients who have had gastric ulcers at one point or the other. While the blood thinning effect could lead to an increased risk of bleeding especially when combined with other drugs (other blood thinning drugs). This same thinning effect could lead to heart problems or complicate already existing ones. NSAID effects have the ability to counter or antagonize the therapeutic effects of antihypertensive medications. NSAIDs could complicate or increase the problems associated with hypertension.

Examples of NSAIDs that can be found as over-the-counter drugs include:

  • Aspirin (in high doses because at low doses, it is not considered an NSAID)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Diclofenac
  • Naproxen
  • Ketoprofen
  • Celecoxib

While those that require a prescription include:

  • Naprosyn
  • Indocin
  • Vimovo
  • Relafen
  • Daypro, etc.

Moreover, NSAIDs are not usually recommended for some certain individuals:

  • Older individuals (older than 50 or in some cases 75)
  • Individuals with a history of gastrointestinal problems
  • People with kidney diseases
  • People with asthma
  • People with coronary artery diseases (except aspirin prescribed by a physician)
  • Women in late pregnancy stages (third trimester), etc.

Since we have a clear understanding of the relationship between blood-thinning drugs, Tylenol, and NSAIDs we can surmise that Tylenol is not a blood thinner for two major reasons:

  1. It is not an NSAID
  2. Even though Tylenol has anti-inflammatory properties, they are too little to make much of a difference (except if it is used as part of a combination).