By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Dilaudid Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is Dilaudid® (hydromorphone) used for?

Dilaudid® is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydromorphone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

How should I take Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Take Dilaudid® by mouth exactly as prescribed and directed by your doctor. This drug can be taken with or without food. Dilaudid® can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed.

Dilaudid® may be addictive, even at regular doses. Misuse of narcotic pain medication can cause addiction, overdose, or death.

Never crush or break a tablet to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your vein.

How do I store Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Dilaudid® is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Dilaudid® in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of Dilaudid® that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush Dilaudid® down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of Dilaudid® or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

You should not take Dilaudid® if you have ever had an allergic reaction to hydromorphone or other narcotic medicines, or if you have:

  • Severe asthma or breathing problems
  • A blockage in your stomach or intestines
  • A bowel obstruction called paralytic ileus

Do not use Dilaudid® if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.

Some medicines can interact with hydromorphone and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.

You may not be able to take Dilaudid® if you are not already being treated with a similar opioid (narcotic) pain medicine and are tolerant to it. Talk with your doctor if you are not sure you are opioid-tolerant.

Dilaudid® may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away hydromorphone to any other person is against the law.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Common side effects may include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Tired feeling
  • Feelings of extreme happiness or sadness
  • Sweating
  • Mild itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)

Call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Weak or shallow breathing
  • Confusion, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness
  • Severe weakness or drowsiness
  • A light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • Infertility, missed menstrual periods
  • Impotence, sexual problems, loss of interest in sex
  • Low cortisol levels – nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Dilaudid® may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products that may interact with this drug are:

  • Specific pain medications including mixed opioid agonist/antagonists such as pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol
  • Opioid antagonists such as naltrexone

Does food or alcohol interact with Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Do not use alcohol or medications that contain alcohol while you are receiving treatment with hydromorphone. This may increase nervous system side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and impairment in thinking and judgment. In severe cases, low blood pressure, respiratory distress, fainting, coma, or even death may occur.

What health conditions may interact with Dilaudid® (hydromorphone)?

Dilaudid® may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Health conditions that may interact with this drug are:

  • Impaired Gi Motility
  • Infectious Diarrhea
  • Liver Disease
  • Prematurity
  • Renal Dysfunction
  • Acute Alcohol Intoxication
  • Drug Dependence
  • Hypotension
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Biliary Spasm
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Urinary Retention
  • Arrhythmias


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Dilaudid® (hydromorphone) for an adult?

Dilaudid® Oral Solution

Initiate treatment with Dilaudid® Oral Solution in a dosing range of one-half (2.5 mL to two teaspoonsful (10 mL (2.5 mg – 10 mg) every 3 to 6 hours as needed for pain.

Dilaudid® Tablets

Initiate treatment with Dilaudid® Tablets in a dosing range of 2 mg to 4 mg, orally, every 4 to 6 hours.

What is the dose of Dilaudid® (hydromorphone) for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is Dilaudid® (hydromorphone) available?

Dilaudid® is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Oral liquid, tablets: hydromorphone hydrochloride 5mg in 5mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Dilaudid®, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: July 12, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

You might also like