Skip to Content

Hydromorphone (rectal)

Generic Name: hydromorphone (rectal) (hye dro MOR fone)
Brand Name: Dilaudid

Medically reviewed on Dec 12, 2017

What is rectal hydromorphone?

Hydromorphone is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic.

Hydromorphone rectal is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Hydromorphone rectal may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use rectal hydromorphone if you have a brain tumor or head injury, severe asthma, or breathing problems caused by curvature of the spine, emphysema, COPD, or other lung problems.

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.

Using hydromorphone 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 use rectal hydromorphone if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a narcotic medicine, or if you have:

  • severe asthma or breathing problems;

  • a brain tumor or head injury; or

  • abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing.

You should not use rectal 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;

  • seizures;

  • drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;

  • urination problems;

  • a stomach or intestinal disorder;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • sulfite allergy;

  • a thyroid disorder; or

  • Addison's disease or other adrenal gland disorders.

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 rectal hydromorphone?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Hydromorphone can slow or stop your breathing. Never use rectal 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.

Do not take a hydromorphone rectal suppository by mouth. It is for use only in your rectum.

Hydromorphone may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share hydromorphone with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICATION 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.

Wash your hands before and after inserting the rectal suppository.

Try to empty your bowel and bladder just before using the hydromorphone suppository.

Remove the wrapper before inserting the suppository. Avoid handling the suppository too long or it will melt in your hands.

Lie on your back with your knees up toward your chest. Gently insert the suppository into your rectum about 1 inch, pointed tip first.

For best results, stay lying down for a few minutes. The suppository will melt quickly and you should feel little or no discomfort while holding it in. Avoid using the bathroom for at least an hour after using the suppository.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using rectal hydromorphone.

Do not stop using this medicine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

Store in the refrigerator, do not freeze. Protect from light. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

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 who accidentally sucks on or swallows a hydromorphone suppository, or in any other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, very slow breathing, or coma.

What should I avoid while using rectal 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.

Rectal 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:

  • slow heart rate, weak or shallow breathing;

  • severe drowsiness;

  • little or no urinating;

  • confusion, mood changes, severe anxiety, feeling of fear;

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

  • missed menstrual periods;

  • impotence, sexual problems, loss of interest in sex; 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 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;

  • dizziness, drowsiness;

  • sweating;

  • weakness, muscle stiffness; or

  • joint or muscle pain.

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 rectal 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:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with rectal hydromorphone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

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.

Hide