What is hydrocodone used for?
Hydrocodone is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain. Hydrocodone belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic (opiate) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
How should I take hydrocodone?
Take this medication on a regular schedule as directed by your doctor, not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain. Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually every 12 hours. You may take this drug with or without food. If you have nausea, it may help to take this drug with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible).
Swallow the capsules whole. Do not crush, chew, or dissolve the capsules. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Properly stop the medication when so directed.
Pain medications work best if they are used as the first signs of pain occur. If you wait until the pain has worsened, the medication may not work as well.
Before you start taking this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should stop or change the dose of your other narcotic medication(s). For added pain relief, your doctor may direct you to also take quick-acting narcotic or non-narcotic pain medications (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen). Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about using hydrocodone safely with other drugs.
This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as restlessness, watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, sweating, muscle aches) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions right away.
When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.
Along with its benefits, this medication may rarely cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). This risk may be increased if you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past. Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lessen the risk of addiction.
Tell your doctor if your pain persists or worsens.
How do I store hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store hydrocodone in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of hydrocodone 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 hydrocodone 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 hydrocodone?
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 hydrocodone or other medications.
- You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had low blood pressure; difficulty urinating; seizures; or thyroid, gall bladder, pancreas, liver, or kidney disease.
If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking hydrocodone.
You should know that hydrocodone may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
You should know that hydrocodone may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking hydrocodone. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
You should know that hydrocodone may cause constipation. Talk to your doctor about changing your diet and using other medications to treat or prevent constipation.
Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using hydrocodone during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking hydrocodone. Hydrocodone 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
What side effects can occur from hydrocodone?
Common side effects may include:
- Constipation, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Swelling in your hands or feet
- Muscle pain, back pain
- Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
- Mild drowsiness, tired feeling
- Headache, dizziness
Stop using hydrocodone and call your doctor at once if you have:
- Weak or shallow breathing
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Confusion, tremors, severe 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
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Hydrocodone is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to hydrocodone: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
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 hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone 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:
- Other narcotic medications – opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine
- Drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing – a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, sedative, tranquilizer, or antipsychotic medicine
- Drugs that affect serotonin levels in your body – medicine for depression, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting
Does food or alcohol interact with hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.
What health conditions may interact with hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone 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:
- Alcohol abuse
- Breathing problems (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], cor pulmonale, hypoxia)
- Congestive heart failure
- Drug dependence, especially with narcotics
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Gallbladder problems
- Heart rhythm problems (e.g., congenital long QT syndrome, slow heartbeat)
- Mental illness
- Pancreatitis (inflammation or swelling of the pancreas)
- Stomach or bowel problems (e.g., blockage)
- Trouble swallowing
- Weakened immune system
- Breathing problems, severe (e.g., hypercarbia)
- Paralytic ileus (intestine stops working and may be blocked)
- Respiratory depression (very slow breathing)
- Brain tumor
- Head injuries
- Increased pressure in the head
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using hydrocodone.
What is the dose of hydrocodone for an adult?
Usual Adult Dose for Pain:
Initial dose: 10 mg orally every 12 hours
Titration: The dose should be increased in increments of 10 mg orally every 12 hours every 3 to 7 days as needed to achieve adequate analgesia. Hydrocodone ER should be titrated to a dose that provides adequate analgesia and minimizes adverse reactions. Patients should be monitored routinely to assess the maintenance of pain control and incidence of adverse reactions, as well as monitoring for the development of addiction, abuse, or misuse. Patients who experience breakthrough pain may require a dose increase, or may need a rescue medication with an appropriate dose of an immediate-release analgesic.
Maximum dose: A single dose of hydrocodone ER greater than 40 or 50 mg, or a total daily dose greater than 80 mg are only for patients in whom tolerance to an opioid of comparable potency is established.
What is the dose of hydrocodone 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 hydrocodone available?
Hydrocodone is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:
- Capsule Extended Release, Oral: 10mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg
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 hydrocodone, 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 20, 2017 | Last Modified: December 19, 2019
Hydrocodone. https://www.drugs.com/hydrocodone.html. Accessed July 26, 2017
Hydrocodone. http://www.mims.com/philippines/drug/info/hydrocodone?mtype=generic. Accessed July 26, 2017