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.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. 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?
Each 5 mL of red, wild-cherry-flavoured syrup contains hydrocodone bitartrate 5 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: artificial cherry flavor, caramel syrup, FD&C Red No. 2, hydrochloric acid, methylparaben, propylparaben, purified water, sorbitol solution 70%, and sucrose. The syrup does not contain alcohol, lactose, sodium, sulfite, or tartrazine.
Each white, scored tablet embossed with "HYCODAN" on one side and blank on the other side contains hydrocodone bitartrate 5 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cornstarch, lactose, pregelatinized tapioca starch, stearic acid, talc, and zinc stearate. The tablets do not contain sodium or tartrazine.
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 and children over 12 years is 5 mg (1 teaspoonful [5 mL] or 1 tablet) 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 (3 tablets or 15 mL).
The maximum single dose for children over 12 years is 10 mg (2 tablets or 10 mL).
Children (2 to 12 years): The recommended dose is 2.5 mg (one-half teaspoonful [2.5 mL] or one-half tablet) not less than 4 hours apart, after meals and at bedtime with food or a glass of milk. Do not exceed 15 mg (6 doses) in a 24-hour period. The maximum single dose is 5 mg (1 tablet or 5 mL).
Children (less than 2 years): The recommended dose is 1.25 mg (one-quarter teaspoonful [1.25 mL] or one-quarter tablet) not less than 4 hours apart, after meals and at bedtime with food or a glass of milk. Do not exceed 7.5 mg (6 doses) in a 24-hour period. The maximum single dose is 1.25 mg (one-quarter tablet or 1.25 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 you 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 having difficulty breathing
- have an intracranial (inside the head) lesion associated with increased pressure inside the head
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 or double-vision or other changes in vision
- constipation (more common with long-term use)
- decrease in amount of urine
- difficult or painful urination
- difficulty sleeping
- dry mouth
- false sense of well-being
- frequent urge to urinate
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- lightheadedness, or feeling faint
- loss of appetite
- nausea or vomiting
- nervousness or restlessness
- nightmares or unusual dreams
- stomach cramps or pain
- 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:
- fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- feelings of unreality
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- increased sweating
- irregular breathing
- mood or mental changes
- ringing or buzzing in the ears
- shortness of breath, wheezing, or troubled breathing
- signs of depression, e.g.:
- changes in sleep
- changes in weight
- decreased interest in activities
- poor concentration
- thoughts of suicide
- swelling of face
- unusual excitement or restlessness (especially in children)
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of serious allergic reaction, e.g.:
- abdominal cramps
- difficulty breathing
- nausea and vomiting
- swelling of the face and throat
- 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.
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.
Breathing: Hydrocodone can suppress breathing. People at risk for breathing difficulties, such as asthma, should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their 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. People who develop constipation easily or those who have chronic constipation should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their 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 this medication is stopped suddenly, 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 have made sure that this medication does not make you drowsy.
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.
Sedation with other medications: Since the sedating effects of this medication are additive to those of other sedating medications, those using this medication are cautioned against drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills, sedatives, psychotherapeutic agents, or other medications with sedating effects. Tell your doctor about all of the medications you take.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. 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. Because of the potential for serious side effects in nursing infants, a decision should be made to either stop nursing or stop the medication, taking into account the importance of the medication to the mother. 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 should only be given to children if the benefits outweigh the risks.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between hydrocodone and any of the following:
- amphetamines (e.g., dextroamphetamine)
- anaesthetics (e.g., pentothal)
- antihistamines (of the type that causes drowsiness, e.g., chlorpheniramine)
- azole anti-fungals (e.g., intraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
- barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital, secobarbital)
- benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam, lorazepam)
- other medications that cause drowsiness
- other narcotic analgesics (e.g., codeine, fentanyl, meperidine, oxymorphone)
- phenothiazines (e.g., chlorpromazine, promethazine, perphenazine)
- protease inhibitors (e.g., indinavir, ritonavir, saquinaver)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, desipramine, nortriptyline)
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.