Various medications are used effectively for relieving pain that is either mild, moderate or severe. Hydrocodone is one among the most commonly used medications for pain management of conditions that are classified as severe pain. This is especially prescribed for patients who require pain management for a longer duration. By virtue of being recommended for patients who require relief from pain throughout the day, the medication is likely to result in side effects. Here is a look at the side effects of hydrocodone and simple measures to mitigate and prevent the adverse effects.
Overview and side effects of hydrocodone
Belonging to the class of medications known as opiates, hydrocodone works by altering the manner in which the brain and the nervous system react to pain stimuli. The narcotic analgesic is also available as a combination medication and the side effects of hydrocodone will also depend on the other active ingredients in the combination medication. The drug is available as an extended-release formulation in capsule as well as tablet form. The capsules are typically taken twice a day while the tablet is taken once every day.
Commonly reported side effects of hydrocodone
Here is a compilation of commonly reported side effects of hydrocodone. It is necessary to understand that the compilation of side-effects does not necessarily mean that every individual on the medication will experience adverse effects. Certain categories of patients on the medication are likely to experience mild or moderate side effects, while others may experience serious side effects that are rare in occurrence. It is also possible for certain patients to be free from any kind of side effects whatsoever when on the medication.
Commonly reported side effects of hydrocodone include fatigue that is not attributed to any specific condition. There is also the possibility of patients experiencing pain in the stomach when on the medication. Other manifestations of adverse effects of hydrocodone include unusual or abnormal back pain. Throbbing headache is another possible symptom of undesirable effects of the medication. Patients are also likely to experience a clear tightening of the muscles for no specific reason or physical exertion. Dry mouth is another likely adverse effect that could be experienced by patients who take the medication for long duration.
Other possible side effects of hydrocodone include a distinct ringing sensation in the ear. There are reports of individuals experiencing difficulty while urinating that may or may not be accompanied by pain. This could be frequent in nature in a sizeable number of patients. Similarly, patients have reported an inability to sleep soundly or to stay asleep for a reasonable period of time. Swelling or inflammation in the feet, especially around the ankles is another effect experienced by individuals on the medication. In addition to the above, individuals may experience abnormal shaking of certain parts of the body. This shaking is typically uncontrollable and could impact social or professional conduct.
Serious side effects of hydrocodone requiring medical intervention
The side effects mentioned above are generally considered as moderate or mild, that may or may not require medical intervention. In certain instances, the side effect may resolve naturally. However, there are other side effects of hydrocodone, that are considered as serious in nature. These serious effects of the medication could aggravate and turn into a medical emergency. It is therefore necessary to seek urgent medical intervention or triage at any Healthcare facility to prevent the condition from turning serious in nature. For instance, individuals who experience pain in the chest are expected to seek medical assistance at the earliest. Similarly, individuals who experience a sudden change in the pace of heartbeat or extreme stiffness in the muscles are expected to seek medical intervention. Other symptoms of serious manifestations of undesirable effects of the medication include, sudden loss of coordination, or confusion. An agitated feeling, or profuse sweating is also to be regarded as possible serious side effects. There is also the possibility of the individual hallucinating without being exposed to any intoxicant or other mind-altering medication.
Other serious side effects of hydrocodone include vigors or shivering that may be experienced by individuals on the medication for a long time. Vomiting or nausea are other possible adverse reactions to the medication. The medication is also known to have an impact on sexual behaviour and health. For instance, men are reported to experience a sudden inability to sustain an erection. Some also known to find it difficult to even experience an erection. Consequently, this results in a sudden decrease in sexual desire among those who are affected. Similarly, women are also reported to experience irregular menstruation when on the medication. Other side effects of the medication include sudden lack of appetite, that typically results in general weakness in the individual.
Symptoms or discernible changes that indicate side effects of hydrocodone
There are clear symptoms or discernible changes that indicate side effects of hydrocodone. For instance, the outbreak of hives indicates that the individual is experiencing possible side effects. Similarly, burning sensation that is not attributed to any other specific reason is also another indication of possible side effects. A change in the pace of heartbeat is another manifestation that should trigger an alert in the patient. Any difficulty in swallowing for breathing normally should also be reported as soon as possible to the treating specialist or the health care facility. Hoarse voice is another possible indication of a side effect of the medication. Finally, there is the possibility of individuals experiencing inflammation or swelling in the face, especially on the lips, tongue, throat or the eyes.
Precautions to prevent or mitigate side effects of hydrocodone
As mentioned earlier, side effects of medications are relatively common to all medications. The best method is to take suitable precautions, to either prevent or mitigate the side effects. For instance, it is necessary to take the medication at the same time of the day or night. This will ensure that the amount of the drug in the body does not spike. A missed or skipped dose is not to be adjusted with a double dose. Similarly, there are specific medications, known as rescue medications, that are developed for the purpose of reversing overdose effects. For instance, individuals who have taken medication above the prescribed or recommended limits, are typically administered naloxone to reverse the effects of the overdose. This medication works by blocking the adverse effects of the active ingredients, which are responsible for the life threatening symptoms, attributed to the mechanism of action of the medication. Administering naloxone requires basic training, and depending on the condition it may be necessary to give additional doses of naloxone. This is typically given to patients who have had an overdose of opiates, as an emergency measure till arrival of trained medics or paramedics.
Commonly reported symptoms of overdose of hydrocodone
There is a compilation of commonly reported symptoms that indicate an overdose of hydrocodone. Patients who have taken excessive dose may experience a sudden decrease in heartbeat rate. The skin may be cold and clammy to the touch, while the individual may not respond to attempts to awaken them. Breathing may appear slow or shallow, when compared to normal breathing rhythm. In addition to this, the patient may also exhibit difficulty in breathing normally. The pupils may appear relatively narrow or the pupils may also appear wide. The patient may experience weakness in the muscles and also experience an unusual desire to sleep all the time.
General precautions when on the medication
In addition to the above it is also necessary to follow certain general precautions when on the medication. This will prevent the manifestation of certain side effects of hydrocodone. Individuals who consume alcohol or other intoxicants are advised to stay off alcohol and intoxicants when on the medication. The combination of the medication with alcohol could result in serious consequences. For instance, the effect of intoxicants or alcohol maybe aggravate when taken in combination with the medication. This could have disastrous consequences when the patient it is driving or operating machinery that require complete focus and coordination.
Drug interactions of hydrocodone
In addition to the above mentioned side effects of hydrocodone, there is the possibility of other medications interacting with the drug. For instance, patients on certain medications to treat high blood pressure are advised to intimate the treating specialist about the medication. Similarly, medications for treating heart ailments are also known to interact with hydrocodone. Other medications that could trigger possible drug interactions include hepatitis C drugs and medications for treating HIV. Apart from the above, certain categories of antibiotic and antifungal medications are also known to interact with hydrocodone.
Patients on diuretics, or medications for treating irritable bowel syndrome are also at risk of experiencing drug interactions. Sedatives, including valium, lorazepam, Versed and Xanax may also result in drug interactions when taken along with hydrocodone. Individuals on medications to treat allergies or bronchodilator formulations for managing asthma are also exposed to the risk of experiencing drug interactions. Finally, the class of medications that are known to have an impact on serotonin levels are also responsible for drug interactions with the medication. These drugs are typically prescribed for treating depression, or patients with Parkinson’s disease. It is therefore necessary for individuals to list out all medications and OTC formulations used for treating or managing medical conditions. Additionally, it is also important to list out all herbal remedies and supplements consumed, as the possibility of interactions cannot be ruled out with the ingredients of such products.
Important information to prevent adverse side effects of hydrocodone
Patients on the medication are known to experience withdrawal symptoms. It is therefore necessary to diligently follow the address of the treating specialist or the healthcare facility regarding the discontinuation of medication. Serious side effects of hydrocodone include possible fatalities, as a result of combining the medication with alcohol or other medications that have an impact on breathing and heart rate. Similarly, pregnant women are also advised to stay off hydrocodone, as this could result in life threatening consequences in the new born child, as a result of withdrawal symptoms. Certain effects may be experienced by individuals when starting the treatment regimen or when discontinuing the treatment.