How effective is oral activated charcoal for the treatment of acetaminophen toxicity/poisoning?

Updated: Jan 17, 2020
  • Author: Susan E Farrell, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Oral activated charcoal avidly adsorbs acetaminophen. This gastrointestinal (GI) decontaminant can afford significant treatment benefit if administered to the patient within 1 hour post ingestion, or later if the ingestion involves an agent that delays gastric emptying or slows GI motility. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), or acetylcysteine, is an extremely effective antidote for acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity due to an acute overdose, especially if administered within 8-10 hours after ingestion. [13] See Treatment and Medication.

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