Medically reviewed on December 12, 2017
What is hydromorphone?
Hydromorphone is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic.
Hydromorphone is used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The extended-release form of this medicine is for around-the-clock treatment of moderate to severe pain. This form of hydromorphone is not for use on an as-needed basis for pain.
Hydromorphone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not take hydromorphone if you have severe breathing problems, or a blockage in your stomach or intestines.
Hydromorphone can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Taking this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Fatal side effects can occur if you use this medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to hydromorphone or other narcotic medicines, or if you have:
severe asthma or breathing problems;
a blockage in your stomach or intestines; or
Do not use hydromorphone if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
Some medicines can interact with hydromorphone and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.
To make sure hydromorphone is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
any type of breathing problem or lung disease;
drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;
liver or kidney disease;
problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid; or
Addison's disease or other adrenal gland disorder.
If you use hydromorphone 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 habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Do not breast-feed. Hydromorphone can pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness or breathing problems in a nursing baby.
How should I use hydromorphone?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Hydromorphone can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never use hydromorphone in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.
Hydromorphone may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away hydromorphone is against the law.
Do not crush, break, or open an extended-release pill. Swallow it whole to avoid exposure to a potentially fatal dose.
Stop taking all other around-the-clock narcotic pain medications when you start taking hydromorphone.
Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Do not stop using hydromorphone suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using hydromorphone.
Never crush or break a hydromorphone pill to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your vein. This can cause in death.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Throw away any unused liquid after 90 days.
Keep track of your medicine. Hydromorphone is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine 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 hydromorphone is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A hydromorphone overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, very slow breathing, or coma.
What should I avoid while using hydromorphone?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.
Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how hydromorphone will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Hydromorphone side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Like other narcotic medicines, hydromorphone can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, pinpoint pupils, or if you are hard to wake up.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing;
a slow heart rate or weak pulse;
confusion, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;
severe weakness or drowsiness;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
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 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 side effects may include:
constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
headache, tired feeling;
feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;
sweating, mild itching;
dry mouth; or
flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling).
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect hydromorphone?
Narcotic (opioid) medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:
other narcotic medications--opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;
drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing--a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, tranquilizer, antidepressant, or antipsychotic medicine.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with hydromorphone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.01.
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