Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain reliever, which is often used in combination with other painkillers. The following article provides information on this semi-synthetic opioid.
Codeine and thebaine are the two naturally-occurring opioids (narcotic drugs that contain opium or an opium derivative), from which hydrocodone is derived. Commonly available in the form of pills, capsules, etc., it is a narcotic painkiller, given in combination with other kinds of pain relievers such as acetaminophen. It is basically an active ingredient in many prescription-strength narcotic painkillers. These are used to deal with mild to moderate pain.
An important fact that must be known about this drug is that it is a Schedule II drug, which means it has an accepted medical use but is classified as a controlled substance due to the high potential for abuse and dependence. It must be used in accordance with the laws and regulations of the government.
Common brand names of drugs which contain this ingredient include Anexsia, Dolorex Forte, Hycet, Liquicet, etc. However, some commercial compound hydrocodone-based opiods are classified as Schedule III, due to the accepted medical use and lower potential for abuse and possibility of mild to moderate addiction than Schedule I and II drugs.
Drugs that have this semi-synthetic opioid as one of their active ingredients are prescribed to manage pain. The medicine is effective for both short-term and long-term pain control. It is also an antitussive, which means that it also serves as a cough suppressant. In some cases, it is also used as a sleep aid. It should be known that, as of now, this prescription drug is not recommended for children.
As with any kind of medication, this drug has its own share of side effects. However, the side effects that occur are well-tolerated by most users, and might not require any kind of treatment. An important point to be noted is that in case of compound preparations, the side effects that may occur could also be due to the other ingredients.
It must be noted that the hydrocodone-acetaminophen combination is a FDA pregnancy Category C, which means that it should not be taken by pregnant women due to the possibility of harm to an unborn baby. Common side effects that are noticed include:
- Feeling of lightheadedness
- Digestive problems such as constipation
These are the commonly observed mild side effects. However, in some cases, side effects could be severe in nature. These may include:
- Shallow breathing
- Irregular breathing
- Slow pulse
- Difficulty in urination
- Fear or anxiety for no apparent reason
- Impaired balance
- Allergic reaction
- The user may have a strong urge to abuse the drug for non-medical purposes
The dosage might depend on the amount of acetaminophen, and different drugs would have it in different concentration. Normally, a hydrocodone-based drug is taken every 4 – 6 hours as needed. However, the actual dosage depends upon the strength of the product, interactions with other drugs, and the body’s response to it.
Being a controlled substance, there are a few precautions that have to be followed before taking this drug. This would include letting the doctor or the healthcare provider know if:
- The patient is suffering from any kind of liver or kidney disease.
- The patient is an expecting or a nursing mother.
- The patient is on other medications.
- The patient is suffering from hypothyroidism, prostate enlargement, or Addison’s disease.
- The patient’s work involves working with heavy machinery, or driving.
- The patient has had a head injury in the past.
- The patient has a head tumor.
- The patient has some kind of mental disorder.
The most concerning aspect of using this drug is its danger of overdose. Symptoms which are indicative of an overdose include:
- Cold and clammy skin
- Drowsiness of an extreme nature
- Cardiac arrest
- Slow pulse
- In rare cases, death
As hydrocodone belongs to the narcotic class of drugs, its use has to be monitored with caution. Side effects are usually mild, but what you have to watch out for is dependence on it or an overdose, whose effects may have serious implications.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.