Can You Crush Tylenol?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not Tylenol products can be crushed.

Question

I have trouble swallowing and need to take Tylenol. I am wondering if you can crush it?

Asked by Sky On May 06, 2021

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published May 06, 2021
Last updated Mar 03, 2022

Key points

  • Many Tylenol products can safely be crushed with certain exceptions, including those that are extended-release (e.g. Tylenol Arthritis) and certain dosage forms (e.g. capsules, liquid gels etc...).

Yes, there are many formulations of Tylenol (acetaminophen) that can be crushed, which is commonly needed for those who have trouble swallowing or use a feeding tube. It is important to note that are some exceptions to this and not all Tylenol products can be crushed.

Tylenol products that should not be crushed include:

  • Tylenol Arthritis
  • Tylenol Gelcaps
  • Tylenol Coated Tablets
  • Tylenol 8-Hr

As a general rule of thumb, if the Tylenol product is 'immediate-release' (not 'extended-release') and is in a caplet or tablet form, it can be crushed. If you have questions about any specific product, be sure to ask your pharmacist (or us of course).

Exceptions

So, why can't extended-release Tylenol products (such as Tylenol Arthritis, or Tylenol 8-Hour) be crushed?

Tylenol Arthritis, for example, contains 650 mg of acetaminophen that is slowly released over an 8 hour time period. Crushing this medication results in the complete dose being released at once, ruining the extended-release properties of the drug. This will shorten its duration of action and possibly increase the risk of side effect, like nausea.

As mentioned above, in general, only Tylenol products that are in tablet or caplet form (and aren't extended-released) should be crushed. You should not crush other dosage forms, like gel caps, capsules or liquid-gels. These formulations are not intended to be destroyed and you will likely lose some of the drug product (as in liquid gels) or risk ingesting shards of the dosage form (e.g. from a broken capsule).

As an additional note, we also have a Tylenol product called 'TYLENOL® Extra Strength Coated Tablets' listed above as a product that should not be crushed. Even though these are not extended-release, they should not be crushed either. The coating on the tablet allows it to be swallowed more easily and crushing them won't result in a fine powder. The crushed up coating will likely be irritating if swallowed.

Alternatives To Crushing

An alternative for those with trouble swallowing pills is to use liquid forms of Tylenol. Although they may be marketed for children, adults can certainly take liquid forms as they will have the same analgesic effect of solid dosage forms.

Tylenol also comes in a chewable tablet form, which is a much more palatable way to use crushed Tylenol if you are administering by mouth. In fact, taking chew tabs by mouth is generally recommended over using crushed Tylenol pills as crushed pills will have a bitter taste and chalky texture.

References

  • McPherson ML. Don’t crush that tablet!, PubMed
  • Oral dosage forms that should not be crushed. November 2018, ISMP

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication related questions!

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