What is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is an opioid derivative of natural opiates codeine and thebaine. It is used as a narcotic analgesic and cough suppressant. Hydrocodone is often used in combined formulations with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, because of the synergistic effect for analgesia. It is used as an active ingredient in hundreds of different prescription medicines. Cough suppressant compounds may contain a number of active ingredients including histamines. It is most commonly used for symptomatic relief of moderately severe pain.
How does Hydrocodone work?
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic and its action is similar to that of codeine. It acts on the central nervous system to decrease pain and mute the cough reflex, probably by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.
What does Hydrocodone look like?
Hydrocodone is sold in dozens of different combination pills, most commonly compounded with acetaminophen and frequently with ibuprofen. It is also available in an extended release suspension.
Hydrocodone dosing and administration
The standard hydrocodone starting dosage for both pain and cough suppression is between 5 and 10 mg of hydrocodone combined with up to 500 mg of acetaminophen. It may be prescribed on a schedule basis, in which case this dose will be taken every four to six hours, or on an as needed basis, in which case doses will be skipped if they are not required for pain. Hydrocodone may be upsetting for the stomach which can be avoided by taking it with food.
Common adverse effects from Hydrocodone
The most common side effects of hydrocodone are lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. More serious side effects which may appear occasionally and for which you should seek immediate medical attention may include cravings for more hydrocodone than you have been prescribed, confusion, anxiety, severe constipation, depressed respiration, bradycardia, dysuria, hypotension, lethargy, balance problems and allergic reactions.
Hydrocodone warnings and precautions
You should tell your doctor before taking hydrocodone if you are suffering from a lung disease of any kind, kidney or liver disease, a recent head injury, severe abdominal pain, hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, benign prostatic hypertrophy, or any allergies. You should also inform your doctor if you have a history of abusing any substances including alcohol, if your are pregnant or may become pregnant while taking hydrocodone or if you are breastfeeding. Hydrocodone carries a serious danger of addiction and should be avoided by people with a propensity to drug or alcohol addiction. The longer you take hydrocodone and the higher the dose you take, the more likely you are to have dependency problems with this drug. If you feel you are becoming dependent on hydrocodone, you should discuss this with your doctor. Hydrocodone may mask severe abdominal pain and make diagnosis of some conditions difficult. Elderly people should use Hydrocodone with caution because of the danger of dizziness and falls.
Interactions with Hydrocodone
Drugs which may interact with Hydrocodone include alcohol, antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and narcotics, and sleep medications. Alcohol and narcotics may combine with hydrocodone to severely depress the central nervous system leading to extreme lethargy, confusion, memory loss, dyspnea, coma and death.