Generic Name: acetaminophen/hydrocodone (a-SEET-a-MIN-oh-fen/HYE-droe-KOE-done)
Brand Name: Examples include Vicodin and Lortab

Vicodin contains acetaminophen. Severe and sometimes fatal liver problems, including the need for liver transplant, have been reported with the use of acetaminophen. Most cases of these liver problems occurred in patients taking excessive doses of acetaminophen (more than 4,000 mg per day). Also, patients who developed these liver problems were often using more than 1 medicine that contained acetaminophen. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.


Vicodin is used for:

Treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Vicodin is an analgesic combination. Acetaminophen works by lowering a chemical in the brain that stimulates pain nerves. Hydrocodone, an opioid (narcotic) analgesic, works by binding to receptors in the brain and nervous system used by the body's natural "pain relievers." The combination may provide better pain relief than either medicine alone.

Do NOT use Vicodin if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Vicodin
  • you have diarrhea associated with poisoning, antibiotic use, or a bacterial infection (from eating or drinking contaminated food or water)
  • you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Prescription Drug Addiction - Are You at Risk?

Before using Vicodin:

Some medical conditions may interact with Vicodin. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are allergic to other narcotic medicines (eg, medicines that contain codeine, morphine, oxycodone)
  • if you have or have ever had alcoholism, substance abuse, narcotic dependence, or if you consume more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day
  • if you have considered or attempted suicide
  • if you have acute head injury, increased pressure in the head, brain injury or tumor, epilepsy, or seizures (convulsions)
  • if you are having an asthma attack
  • if you have an acute stomach or intestinal problem, chronic inflammation and ulceration of the bowel, or recent abdominal surgery; adrenal gland problems; enlargement of the prostate gland; heart failure or lung disease, including shortness of breath; liver or kidney problems; thyroid disease; urinary blockage; or viral hepatitis

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Vicodin. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Barbiturate anesthetics (eg, thiopental), cimetidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (eg, phenelzine), tricyclic antidepressants (eg, amitriptyline), or sodium oxybate (GHB) because serious side effects, such as increased sleepiness and decreased ability to breathe, may occur
  • Naltrexone because it may decrease Vicodin's effectiveness and withdrawal symptoms may occur in patients who have become physically dependent on opioids

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Vicodin may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Vicodin:

Use Vicodin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take Vicodin by mouth with or without food. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
  • If you miss a dose of Vicodin, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Vicodin.

Important safety information:

  • Vicodin may cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or lightheadedness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Vicodin with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Vicodin; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Vicodin may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting; alcohol, hot weather, exercise, or fever may increase these effects. To prevent them, sit up or stand slowly, especially in the morning. Sit or lie down at the first sign of any of these effects.
  • Some of these products contain sulfites. Sulfites may cause an allergic reaction in some patients (eg, asthma patients). If you have ever had an allergic reaction to sulfites, ask your pharmacist if your product has sulfites in it.
  • Vicodin has acetaminophen in it. Before you start any new medicine, check the label to see if it has acetaminophen in it too. If it does or if you are not sure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Vicodin may harm your liver. Your risk may be greater if you drink alcohol while you are using Vicodin. Talk to your doctor before you take Vicodin or other fever reducers if you drink more than 3 drinks with alcohol per day.
  • Use Vicodin with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially possible decreased breathing and drowsiness.
  • Vicodin should not be used in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Vicodin while you are pregnant. Vicodin is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Vicodin.

When used for long periods of time or at high doses, Vicodin may not work as well and may require higher doses to obtain the same effect as when originally taken. This is known as TOLERANCE. Talk with your doctor if Vicodin stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.

Some people who use Vicodin for a long time may develop a need to continue taking it. People who take high doses are also at risk. This is known as DEPENDENCE or addiction.

If you suddenly stop taking Vicodin, you may experience WITHDRAWAL symptoms including anxiety; diarrhea; fever, runny nose, or sneezing; goose bumps and abnormal skin sensations; nausea; vomiting; pain; rigid muscles; rapid heartbeat; seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there; shivering or tremors; sweating; and trouble sleeping.

Possible side effects of Vicodin:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Blurred vision; constipation; difficulty breathing; dizziness; drowsiness; flushing; lightheadedness; mental/mood changes; nausea; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); anxiety; change in the amount of urine; change or loss in hearing; fear; interrupted breathing; mental or mood changes; unusual tiredness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include bluish skin; cold/clammy skin; difficult or slow breathing; drowsiness leading to unresponsiveness or coma; excessive sweating; loss of function in the heart and lungs; nausea and vomiting; pinpoint pupils; seizure (convulsions); stomach or intestinal pain.

Proper storage of Vicodin:

Store Vicodin at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not refrigerate. Do not freeze. Dispense in tight, light-resistant container. Keep Vicodin out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Vicodin, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Vicodin is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Vicodin. If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: November 7, 2012
Database Edition 12.4.1.002
Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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