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Acetaminophen/hydrocodone Patient Tips

How it works

Acetaminophen/hydrocodone is a combination of two different pain-relief medicines with two different mechanisms of action. Experts aren't sure exactly how acetaminophen works, but suspect it blocks a specific type of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzyme, located mainly in the brain. Hydrocodone binds to specific receptors known as opioid receptors that block pain signals on their way to the brain.

Upsides

  • Effective combination drug for relieving moderate-to-moderately severe pain.
  • The combination is more effective than either drug alone.
  • Both drugs last for a similar length of time in the body which makes them appropriate to be given together.
  • Available in tablet and oral solution forms, as well as cost-saving generic versions.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Stomach upsets including nausea, vomiting, and constipation; shortness of breath; dizziness; low blood pressure (hydrocodone component).
  • Excessive doses of the acetaminophen ingredient can lead to liver injury or death.
  • Unlike NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen does not have any appreciable anti-inflammatory action.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Acetaminophen/hydrocodone is an effective combination pain relieving medicine; however, use is limited by the dependence potential of the hydrocodone component and the possibility of liver toxicity with excessive doses of acetaminophen.

Tips

  • Short-term use only. Not recommended for long-term use.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
  • Call emergency services if you experience any breathing difficulties, wheezing, itching, or facial swelling.
  • Call your doctor if you experience nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, itching, yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice), or dark (brown) urine, or light-colored stools.
  • Tell your doctor if you think you have become addicted to this combination drug.
  • Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Response and Effectiveness

Peak concentrations usually reached within 1.5 hours. Duration of effect varies among individuals, but, in general, may last from 4 to 6 hours. Only take as directed by your doctor.

References

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen [package insert]. Revised 12/2015. Solco Healthcare US, LLC. https://www.drugs.com/pro/hydrocodone-and-acetaminophen.html Accessed 02/2016

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

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2016-02-26 00:00:00

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