What is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is a widely prescribed pain reliever, sold under the brand name Vicodin, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
Hydrocodone is a powerful pain reliever, but it can also be addictive. Extended-release forms of hydrocodone, such as Zohydro ER and Hysingla ER, helps treat severe pain around the clock.
Hydrocodone is an opioid that belongs to the class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics.
Hydrocodone may slow or stop your breathing. Do not take this drug in high amounts or take it for a longer duration. An extended-release pill should not be crushed, broken, or opened. To avoid being exposed to a potentially fatal dose, swallow it whole.
Even at regular doses, hydrocodone has the potential to become addictive. Never give this medication to anyone else, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a safe place where people cannot get it easily.
Improper use of opioid medications can cause addiction, overdose, or death.
If you are pregnant, notify your doctor. If the mother has used hydrocodone while pregnant, the newborn may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after it is born.
If you use opioid medication with alcohol or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing, it may lead to fatal side effects.
What to know before taking hydrocodone?
Do not use hydrocodone if you are allergic to it or if you have severe asthma or breathing problems, or if you have a blockage in your intestines or stomach.
Tell your doctor if you had any of the following conditions to make sure that hydrocodone is safe for you:
- breathing problems, sleep apnea
- liver or kidney disease
- problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid
- a head injury, brain tumor, or seizures
- drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness
- urination problems
- a heart rhythm disorder called long QT syndrome
If you use opioid medications while pregnant, your baby may become dependent on the drug. Your baby may have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after it is born.
If you are breastfeeding, tell your doctor before taking hydrocodone. Inform your doctor if you notice the nursing baby is drowsy or breathing slowly.
How to take hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone has a high potential to be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Read all medication guides and follow the directions on your prescription label. Never take more hydrocodone or take it for a longer time than prescribed. Inform your doctor if you have an increased desire to take more of this medication.
Never give opioid medication to anyone else, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Improper use of opioid medicines may lead to addiction, overdose, or death. It is illegal to sell or give away hydrocodone. You can buy hydrocodone online with a prescription.
If you have recently used a similar opioid pain medication and your body has become tolerant to it, your dose needs may be different. If you are unsure whether you are opioid-tolerant, consult your doctor.
An extended-release pill should not be crushed, broken, or opened. To avoid being exposed to a potentially fatal dose, swallow it whole. Do not crush or break a hydrocodone pill to inhale the powder or mix it with a liquid to inject the drug into your vein. Doing so can result in death.
If you stop taking this medication suddenly after a long period of use, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Inquire with your doctor about the safest way to stop hydrocodone.
Store hydrocodone at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and light. Always keep track of your medications. You should be aware if anyone is misusing it or using it without a prescription. You can easily order hydrocodone online with a prescription.
Do not keep any leftover opioid medication. A single dose of this medication can be fatal if taken incorrectly or accidentally.
Usual Adult Dose for Chronic Pain
For Patients who are not opioid-tolerant
Extended-Release Capsules (Zohydro(R) ER): The initial dose is 10 mg orally every 12 hours.
Extended-Release Tablets (Hysingla(R) ER): The initial dose is 20 mg orally every 24 hours.
An overdose on hydrocodone can be fatal, especially in a child or someone taking the medication without a prescription. The symptoms of overdose include severe drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, slow breathing, or no breathing at all.
Your doctor may advise you to get naloxone (a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose) and keep it with you at all times. If you stop breathing or do not wake up, someone caring for you can give you naloxone. Your caregiver must seek emergency medical assistance and may need to perform CPR on you while waiting for help to arrive.
What to avoid while using hydrocodone?
Avoid drinking alcohol while using hydrocodone. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.
Avoid driving or engaging in dangerous activities until you know how hydrocodone will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness may cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.
Hydrocodone side effects
Some common side effects of hydrocodone may include:
- dizziness, drowsiness, feeling tired
- constipation, nausea, vomiting
- cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
Opioids can slow or stop your breathing, resulting in death. If you have blue-colored lips, slow breathing with long pauses, or are difficult to wake up, someone caring for you should administer naloxone and seek emergency medical attention.
Stop taking hydrocodone and call your doctor at once if you have:
- a light-headed feeling
- a slow heart rate or weak pulse
- pain or burning when you urinate
- noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep
- low cortisol levels – nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness, or weakness
- confusion, tremors, severe drowsiness
- high serotonin levels in the body – sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, fever, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Severe breathing problems may be more likely in older adults, those who are debilitated, or those who have a wasting syndrome or chronic breathing disorders.
If you have serotonin syndrome symptoms such as shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, seek medical attention right away.
Long-term opioid medication use may affect fertility (the ability to have children) in men and women.
What drugs can interact with hydrocodone?
If you start or stop taking some other medications, you may experience breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms. Inform your doctor if you are also taking antibiotics, antifungal medicines, heart or blood pressure medication, seizure medication, or HIV or hepatitis C medication.
Opioids can interact with many other medicines and cause dangerous side effects or even death. Tell your doctor if you also use drugs such as:
- cold or allergy medicines, bronchodilator asthma or COPD medication
- medications for overactive bladder, motion sickness, or irritable bowel syndrome
- other opioids, including prescription cough medicine opioid pain medicine
- sedatives like Valium – diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Xanax, Klonopin, and Versed
- drugs that can cause drowsiness or slow your breathing – sleeping pills, medicine to treat mood disorders or mental illness, muscle relaxer
- medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body – a stimulant or medicine for depression, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or nausea and vomiting