Guaifenesin and hydrocodone (Oral)
Generic name: guaifenesin and hydrocodone [ gwye-FEN-e-sin, hye-droe-KOE-done-bye-TAR-trate ]
Drug class: Upper respiratory combinations
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 30, 2023.
Warning: Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse; Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression, Accidental Ingestion, Medication Errors; Cytochrome P450 3A4 Interaction; Concomitant Use with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS Depressants; Interaction with Alcohol; Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin exposes users to risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess patient’s risk before prescribing and monitor closely for these behaviors and conditions.
Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur. Monitor closely, especially upon initiation or when used in patients at higher risk.
Accidental ingestion of hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of hydrocodone
Ensure accuracy when prescribing, dispensing, and administering hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin. Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death.
Concomitant use with CYP3A4 inhibitors (or discontinuation of CYP3A4 inducers) can result in a fatal overdose of hydrocodone. Avoid the use of hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin in patients taking CYP3A4 inhibitors or inducers.
Concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Avoid use of hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin in patients taking benzodiazepines, other CNS depressants, or alcohol.
Instruct patients not to consume alcohol or any products containing alcohol while taking hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin because co-ingestion can result in fatal plasma hydrocodone levels.
Hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin is not recommended for use in pregnant women. Prolonged use of hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated. If hydrocodone bitartrate/guaifenesin is used for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available .
Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse:
Hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Reserve hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets for use in adult patients for whom the benefits of cough suppression are expected to outweigh the risks, and in whom an adequate assessment of the etiology of the cough has been made. Assess each patient’s risk prior to prescribing hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets, prescribe hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets for the shortest duration that is consistent with individual patient treatment goals, monitor all patients regularly for the development of addition or abuse, and refill only after reevaluation of the need for continued treatment.
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression:
Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with use of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets therapy or when used in patients at higher risk.
Accidental ingestion of even one dose of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of hydrocodone.
Risk of Medication Errors
Ensure accuracy when prescribing, dispensing, and administering hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets. Dosing errors can result in accidental overdose and death.
Cytochrome P450 3A4 Interaction:
The concomitant use of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets with all cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors may result in an increase in hydrocodone plasma concentrations, which could increase or prolong adverse drug effects and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression. In addition, discontinuation of a concomitantly used cytochrome P450 3A4 inducer may result in an increase in hydrocodone plasma concentration. Avoid the use of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets in patients taking a CYP3A4 inhibitor or inducer.
Risks from Concomitant Use with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS Depressants:
Concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Avoid the use of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets in patients taking benzodiazepines, other CNS depressants, or alcohol.
Interaction with Alcohol:
Instruct patients not to consume alcoholic beverages or use prescription or non-prescription products that contain alcohol while taking hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets. The co-ingestion of alcohol with hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets may result in increased plasma levels and a potentially fatal overdose of hydrocodone.
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome:
Hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets is not recommended for use in pregnant women. Prolonged use of hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If hydrocodone bitartrate and guaifenesin tablets is used for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available
Uses for guaifenesin and hydrocodone
Guaifenesin and hydrocodone combination is used to relieve cough and nasal congestion associated with the common cold.
Hydrocodone is a narcotic antitussive (cough suppressant). It acts directly on the cough center in the brain to relieve cough. Guaifenesin is used to help clear mucus or phlegm from the chest when you have congestion from a cold or flu. It works by thinning the mucus or phlegm in the lungs.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using guaifenesin and hydrocodone
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
The use of hydrocodone in children younger than 6 years of age has caused serious breathing problems, sometimes causing death. Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of guaifenesin and hydrocodone combination in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of guaifenesin and hydrocodone combination in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to develop age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving this medicine.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Calcium Oxybate
- Chloral Hydrate
- Eslicarbazepine Acetate
- Gabapentin Enacarbil
- Magnesium Oxybate
- Methylene Blue
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Nitrous Oxide
- Opium Alkaloids
- Potassium Oxybate
- Ropeginterferon Alfa-2b-njft
- Sodium Oxybate
- St John's Wort
- Tolonium Chloride
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Grapefruit Juice
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Acute pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas) or
- Addison's disease (adrenal problem) or
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Brain tumor, history of or
- Breathing problems, severe (eg, hypoxia, hypercapnia) or
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or
- CNS depression or
- Cor pulmonale (serious heart condition) or
- Diabetes or
- Drug abuse or dependence, especially with narcotics, or history of or
- Enlarged prostate or
- Gallbladder disease or
- Head injuries or
- Increased pressure in the head or
- Mental health problems, history of or
- Stomach problems or
- Thyroid problems or
- Trouble urinating—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
- Asthma, acute or severe or
- Cough, chronic or persistent or
- Paralytic ileus (bowels stop working and may be blocked), known or suspected or
- Respiratory depression (very slow breathing)—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)—Use with caution. May make this condition worse.
- Kidney disease, severe or
- Liver disease, severe—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of guaifenesin and hydrocodone
Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. If too much of this medicine is taken for a long time, it may become habit-forming (causing mental or physical dependence) or cause an overdose.
This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Measure the oral liquid correctly using the marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid. Ask your pharmacist for instructions for measuring the correct dose of this medicine.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For relief of cough, sneezing, or runny or stuffy nose:
- For oral dosage form (solution):
- Adults—10 milliliters (mL) every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Do not take more than 6 doses (60 mL) in 24 hours.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- Adults—1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours. Do not take more than 6 tablets in 24 hours.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For oral dosage form (solution):
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Drop off any unused narcotic medicine at a drug take-back location right away. If you do not have a drug take-back location near you, flush any unused narcotic medicine down the toilet. Check your local drug store and clinics for take-back locations. You can also check the DEA web site for locations. Here is the link to the FDA safe disposal of medicines website: www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm
Precautions while using guaifenesin and hydrocodone
It is very important that your doctor check your progress while you are using this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.
It is against the law and dangerous for anyone else to use your medicine. Keep your unused oral liquid or tablets in a safe and secure place. People who are addicted to drugs might want to steal this medicine.
Do not use this medicine if you are using or have used an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate® within the past 14 days.
This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.
If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose of this medicine, get emergency help at once. Signs of an overdose include dark urine, difficult or troubled breathing, irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing, nausea or vomiting, pain in the upper stomach, pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin, pinpoint pupils of the eyes, or yellow eyes or skin.
This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that can make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, other prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of these medicines while you are using this medicine.
Using this medication can cause severe constipation. To prevent this, your doctor may direct you to take laxatives, drink a lot of fluids, or increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, because continuing constipation can lead to more serious problems.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem. Also, lying down for a while may relieve the dizziness or lightheadedness.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause serious unwanted effects, including neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome in your newborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you think you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
This medicine may cause adrenal insufficiency. Check with your doctor right away if you have darkening of the skin, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, loss of appetite, mental depression, nausea, skin rash, unusual tiredness or weakness, or vomiting.
If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks or longer, do not suddenly stop using it without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as abdominal or stomach cramps, anxiety, fever, nausea, runny nose, sweating, tremors, or trouble sleeping.
Check with your doctor right away if you have anxiety, restlessness, a fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle spasms, twitching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or see or hear things that are not there. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Your risk may be higher if you also take certain other medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body.
Using too much of this medicine may cause infertility (unable to have children). Talk with your doctor before using the tablet if you plan to have children.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Side Effects of guaifenesin and hydrocodone
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- bladder pain
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- bloody or cloudy urine
- changes in vision
- darkening of the skin
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from lying or sitting position
- fast heartbeat
- frequent urge to urinate
- hives, itching, skin rash
- irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
- loss of appetite
- loss of consciousness
- mental depression
- overactive reflexes
- pains in stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
- pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- poor coordination
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- rapid weight gain
- restlessness shivering talking or acting with excitement you cannot control
- tightness in the chest
- tingling of the hands or feet
- trembling or shaking twitching
- unusual weight gain or loss
- yellow eyes or skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- difficulty having a bowel movement
- feeling of warmth
- lack or loss of strength
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- stomach pain
- sudden sweating
- trouble sleeping
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about guaifenesin / hydrocodone
- Check interactions
- Compare alternatives
- Reviews (4)
- Imprints, shape & color data
- Side effects
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Drug class: upper respiratory combinations
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.