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Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone

Generic Name: acetaminophen and hydrocodone (a SEET a MIN oh fen and hye droe KOE done)
Brand Names: Hycet, Lorcet, Norco, Verdrocet, Vicodin, Xodol, Zamicet

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm Last updated on Mar 2, 2020.

What is acetaminophen and hydrocodone?

Acetaminophen and hydrocodone is a combination medicine used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain.

Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers.

Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of hydrocodone.

Acetaminophen and hydrocodone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

MISUSE OF ACETAMINOPHEN AND HYDROCODONE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

Hydrocodone may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it. Acetaminophen and hydrocodone can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Taking opioid medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use opioid medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Tell your doctor if you drink more than three alcoholic beverages per day or if you have ever had alcoholic liver disease (cirrhosis). You may not be able to take medication that contains acetaminophen.

Stop taking acetaminophen and hydrocodone and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to acetaminophen or hydrocodone, or if you have:

  • severe asthma or breathing problems; or

  • a blockage in your stomach or intestines.

To make sure acetaminophen or hydrocodone is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

If you use opioid medicine while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on opioids may need medical treatment for several weeks.

Do not breastfeed. Acetaminophen and hydrocodone can pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, breathing problems, or death in a nursing baby.

How should I take acetaminophen and hydrocodone?

Take acetaminophen and hydrocodone exactly as it was prescribed for you. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Never take acetaminophen and hydrocodone in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. An overdose can damage your liver or cause death. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to use more of this medicine.

Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medicine in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away acetaminophen and hydrocodone is against the law.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

If you need surgery or medical tests, tell the doctor ahead of time that you are using this medicine.

You should not stop using this medicine suddenly. Follow your doctor's instructions about tapering your dose.

Store acetaminophen and hydrocodone at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.

Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush the unused medicine down the toilet.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since this medicine is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of acetaminophen and hydrocodone can be fatal.

The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and confusion or weakness. Later symptoms may include pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

Overdose can also cause severe muscle weakness, pinpoint pupils, very slow breathing, extreme drowsiness, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking acetaminophen and hydrocodone?

Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how acetaminophen and hydrocodone will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine that may contain acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP). Taking certain medications together can lead to a fatal overdose.

Acetaminophen and hydrocodone side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to acetaminophen or hydrocodone: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Opioid medicine can slow or stop your breathing, and death may occur. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction that can be fatal. This could occur even if you have taken acetaminophen in the past and had no reaction. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • liver problems - nausea, upper stomach pain, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • low cortisol levels - nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.

Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common acetaminophen or hydrocodone side effects include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect acetaminophen and hydrocodone?

You may have breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms if you start or stop taking certain other medicines. Tell your doctor if you also use an antibiotic, antifungal medication, heart or blood pressure medication, seizure medication, or medicine to treat HIV or hepatitis C.

Opioid medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with acetaminophen and hydrocodone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use acetaminophen or hydrocodone only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.