Whether it be to soothe a throbbing headache, a painful toothache, or minor body aches, most of us have taken Tylenol at one time or another. And those who struggle with more severe pain have probably reached for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like meloxicam, a time or two instead. There is nothing wrong with taking either of these medications if you’re in pain, but taking them together is another matter entirely. And that is precisely what some people are doing. Studies show some individuals purposefully take meloxicam and Tylenol together, and many say they do so to achieve faster or longer-lasting relief from pain.

Combining Tylenol and Meloxicam: What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

According to an article published by drugs.com, an online resource for peer-reviewed drug information, Tylenol can be taken with NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and even meloxicam, to combat pain when Tylenol alone is not enough. And doing so wouldn’t pose any substantial risk to one’s health if the medications are only taken together for a short time. Problems, however, can arise when individuals take too much of both drugs for too long. And this can happen if they are not keeping tabs on how long they have been on them and how much acetaminophen or NSAIDs each pain reliever contains.

What Everyone Should Know About Acetaminophen and NSAIDs

One thing that differentiates Tylenol from meloxicam is Tylenol is an analgesic, meaning the drug’s primary objective is to relieve pain. Meloxicam, meanwhile, is an NSAID, which means it combats not only pain but also inflammation. It can also help reduce fever. For these reasons, physicians routinely prescribe meloxicam to individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases characterized by pain, inflammation, and fever. Of course, some of those same individuals take it upon themselves to add Tylenol to the equation to further help get pain symptoms under control. But in doing so, they should recognize that these drugs, while they do relieve pain, work differently in the body, not only in terms of benefits but also detriments.

How Tylenol Relieves Pain

Studies show Tylenol and other acetaminophen drugs work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. These enzymes trigger inflammation and contribute to the formation of prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals that cause chronic pain and even increase pain sensitivity. For adults, the standard dosage of Tylenol and other acetaminophen drugs, taken every 4 to 6 hours, is between 325 mg and 650 mg. By blocking COX enzymes and putting an end to the formation of prostaglandins, Tylenol does a remarkable job of relieving pain. Unfortunately, it does not do much to help with inflammation since it only stops the formation of COX enzymes originating in the central nervous system (CNS). And this is where meloxicam and similar NSAIDs come into the picture.

How Meloxicam Relieves Pain and Reduces Inflammation

Meloxicam, like Tylenol, also blocks cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes to help alleviate pain. But pharmacologically speaking, it one-ups Tylenol by relieving pain and reducing inflammation. And this is because the drug blocks COX enzymes throughout the entire body instead of just the CNS, which is how Tylenol works. The standard starting dose of meloxicam for adults is 7.5 mg per day. However, that can titrate up to 15 mg daily depending on the needs of the individual taking the drug.

Drug Interactions Between Tylenol and Meloxicam: What Not Enough People Are Talking About

The long and short of it is there are no known drug interactions between Tylenol and meloxicam, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is nothing to worry about either. Some people find it difficult to take their medications when they are supposed to when taking more than one at a time. The same is true for following prescribed or recommended dosing requirements for those drugs. And such is the case for the millions of Americans taking Tylenol and meloxicam. According to a study published by MedlinePlus, side effects commonly associated with taking excess Tylenol include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bruising
  • Changes in appetite
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Internal bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Profuse sweating

Side effects associated with taking excess meloxicam or any other NSAID can include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Coma
  • Drowsiness
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Passing bloody, black, or tarry stool
  • Seizures
  • Fluid retention

Additional Side Effects Linked to Excess Tylenol and Excess Meloxicam

Tylenol and meloxicam can damage the liver when taken at high doses over a long time. And this, according to several studies, is because of how the liver metabolizes both medications. Studies also show that meloxicam and other NSAIDs taken at high doses over a long time can cause high blood pressure and may increase one’s chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack. And this, by the way, is especially true for anyone with a pre-existing heart condition or family history of heart disease.

Additional Drugs to Avoid While on Meloxicam

While the thrust of this article has been on the dangers of taking meloxicam with Tylenol, there are other drugs that individuals should avoid taking with meloxicam, some of which include

Advil – While it might be tempting to take over-the-counter Advil alongside prescription meloxicam for faster or longer-lasting pain relief, this is a combination you would do best to avoid. And this is because the drug is known to inhibit COX-1 and COX-2, which opens an array of possible health consequences, including heart, kidney, and gastrointestinal problems.

Benadryl – Available data shows meloxicam interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize Benadryl. This interference means the drowsiness commonly associated with Benadryl can last much longer than usual. And that could be a problem if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery.

Xanax – If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or both and taking Xanax, also known as alprazolam, it would be best to avoid meloxicam. Several credible studies show Xanax and other benzodiazepines are less effective when taken with meloxicam, which means you’re likely to experience worse feelings of depression and anxiety while on both medications.

Prednisone – As a corticosteroid, prednisone does an excellent job of relieving swelling, redness, and itching triggered by allergic reactions. But it can be a problem when taken with meloxicam. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), individuals taking prednisone and meloxicam are more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems than someone not taking the two medications.

Hydrocodone and oxycodone – These are two Schedule II drugs commonly prescribed to combat severe pain, and in that regard, they do an excellent job. But just like with prednisone, they can each cause gastrointestinal problems when taken with meloxicam. In one study, researchers noted taking meloxicam with hydrocodone or oxycodone put individuals at risk of developing peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal perforation, and other serious complications.

All told, Tylenol and many other drugs can cause or worsen existing health problems when taken with meloxicam. But those who have to be on it should notify their physician right away if they notice signs of a problem. And those who are taking meloxicam along with hydrocodone, oxycodone, or alprazolam and need help quitting these substances, consider speaking with one of our NJ Addiction Resources associates today.