How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Hydrocodone belongs to the family of medications known as antitussives (cough suppressants). This medication is used to control coughing that is exhausting and nonproductive (nothing is coughed up). It works on the brain to decrease the urge to cough. Hydrocodone is a narcotic medication and therefore can be habit-forming if taken for long periods of time.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Hycodan® is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under hydrocodone. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
Note: A cough is a symptom. Before taking a cough suppressant, it is important to assess the underlying cause of the cough.
Adults: The recommended dose of hydrocodone for adults is 5 mg (1 teaspoonful [5 mL]) not less than 4 hours apart, after meals and at bedtime with food or a glass of milk. Do not exceed 30 mg (6 doses) in a 24-hour period. The maximum single dose for adults is 15 mg (15 mL).
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If your doctor has told you to take this medication regularly and miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take hydrocodone if you:
- are allergic to hydrocodone or any ingredients of the medication
- are allergic to any of the other "opioid"-type medications (e.g., morphine, codeine)
- are experiencing slowed, shallow breathing (respiratory depression)
- are pregnant or breast-feeding
- are taking an MAO inhibitor (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine) or have taken one in the past 2 weeks
- have active alcoholism or are experiencing alcohol withdrawal
- have acute asthma or other obstructive airway diseases (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema), or trouble breathing
- have a blockage of the intestines or a condition that slows down passage of material through the digestive tract
- have a decreased level of consciousness
- have a head injury or increased pressure inside the brain
- have or may have appendicitis or pancreatitis
Do not give this medication to children less than 18 years of age.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- blurred vision
- constipation (more common with long-term use)
- decreased appetite
- decreased sexual ability or interest in sexual activity
- dry mouth
- lightheadedness, or feeling faint when rising from a sitting or lying position
- trouble sleeping
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- difficulty urinating
- fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- feelings of anxiety, fear or unreality
- irregular breathing
- mood or mental changes
- shortness of breath, wheezing, or troubled breathing
- symptoms of a bowel blockage (e.g., stomach pain, severe constipation, nausea)
- vision problems
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
- slow, shallow, or weak breathing
- symptoms of serotonin syndrome (e.g., confusion, fast heartbeat, hallucinations, restlessness, shaking, shivering, sudden jerking of muscles, sweating)
- signs of overdose:
- cold, clammy skin
- convulsions (seizures)
- dizziness (severe)
- drowsiness (severe)
- low blood pressure
- nervousness or restlessness (severe)
- pinpoint-sized pupils of eyes
- slow heartbeat
- slow or troubled breathing
- weakness (severe)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
HEALTH CANADA ADVISORY
August 24, 2020
Health Canada has issued new restrictions concerning the use of hydrocodone. To read the full Health Canada Advisory, visit Health Canada's web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
A previous advisory on hydrocodone was issued on February 18, 2019. To read the full Health Canada Advisory, visit Health Canada's web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
Abdominal (stomach) conditions: Hydrocodone, like other narcotic medications may make the diagnosis of abdominal conditions more difficult or it may worsen these conditions. If you have abdominal problems discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Accidental use: When this medication is used by anyone other than the person for whom it was prescribed, the effects of the medication may be fatal. Children are particularly at risk. Keep this medication out of sight and reach of children.
Adrenal gland problems: Adrenal glands produce chemical messengers that are responsible for the normal function of the body's organs, including how your body responds to injury or stress. When opioids are taken for a month or longer, the medication may cause your adrenal gland to function improperly. Your doctor may monitor your adrenal gland condition especially if you have experienced stress such as surgery, injury, or severe infection.
Alcohol and other medications that cause drowsiness: People taking this medication should not combine it with alcohol and should avoid combining it with other medications, such as narcotic pain relievers, sedatives, or anxiety medications, that cause drowsiness. Doing so can cause additive drowsiness and reduced breathing as well as other side effects, which can be dangerous and possibly fatal.
Breathing: Hydrocodone can suppress breathing. Children are more likely to experience serious breathing problems, including death. For this reason, this medication should not be given to children less than 6 years old. If you are at risk for breathing difficulties – for example, if you have asthma – discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Constipation: Hydrocodone can be very constipating. Eating a high-fibre diet and following good bowel habits will help to minimize this effect. If you develop constipation easily or have chronic constipation, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Dependence and withdrawal: This medication contains hydrocodone. Physical dependence, psychological dependence, and abuse have occurred with the use of hydrocodone. People with a history of past or current substance use problems may be at greater risk of developing abuse or addiction while taking this medication. Abuse is not a problem with people who require this medication for pain relief. If you suddenly stop taking this medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, trouble sleeping, shaking, pain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, and hallucinations. If you have been taking this medication for a while, it should be stopped gradually as directed by your doctor.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Hydrocodone may cause drowsiness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or perform any potentially hazardous tasks until you know how this medication affects you.
Head injury: People with head injuries or increased pressure in the head may have a higher risk of experiencing side effects (breathing problems) or worsening of their condition while taking this medication. Discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Other medical conditions: People about to undergo surgery of the biliary tract should use caution while taking hydrocodone as it may worsen their condition. Hydrocodone will worsen the effects of acute alcohol intoxication and delirium tremens.
Seizures: People with seizure disorders may be more likely to experience seizures when taking this medication. If you have a history of epilepsy or medical conditions that increase the risk of seizures, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Serotonin syndrome: Although rare, severe reactions are possible when hydrocodone is combined with other medications that act on serotonin, such as tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors, medications used to treat depression. These combinations should be avoided if possible. Symptoms of a reaction may include muscle rigidity and spasms, difficulty moving, changes in mental state including delirium and agitation. Coma and death are possible.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Hydrocodone crosses into the placenta, where it can affect the developing baby. Babies born to mothers who have been taking this medication regularly prior to delivery are likely to be physically dependent on the medication. Withdrawal signs include irritability and excessive crying, tremors, hyperactive reflexes, increased respiratory rate, increased stools, sneezing, yawning, vomiting, and fever.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if hydrocodone passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: Children are at increased risk of experiencing serious side effects such as breathing problems. This medication is not recommended for children less than 18 years of age.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between hydrocodone and any of the following:
- amphetamines (e.g., dextroamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine)
- antihistamines (e.g., bilastine, cetirizine, doxylamine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine, loratadine, rupatadine)
- antipsychotics (e.g., chlorpromazine, clozapine, haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone)
- "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
- barbiturates (e.g., butalbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital)
- benzodiazepines (e.g., alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam)
- chloral hydrate
- diuretics (water pills; e.g., furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, triamterene)
- general anesthetics (medications used to put people to sleep before surgery)
- grapefruit juice
- HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
- macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin)
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs; e.g., moclobemide, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
- muscle relaxants (e.g., baclofen, cyclobenzaprine, methocarbamol, orphenadrine)
- other narcotic medications (e.g., codeine, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone)
- protein kinase inhibitors (e.g., ceritinib, crizotinib, imatinib)
- St. John's wort
- seizure medications (e.g., clobazam, levetiracetam, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate, valproic acid,)
- serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs; e.g., desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, venlafaxine)
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; e.g., citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., clomipramine, desipramine, imipramine)
- "triptan" migraine medications (e.g., almotriptan, eletriptan, sumatriptan)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/drug/getdrug/Hycodan