Hydrocodone was created from Codeine, and it was originally discovered by Dr. Helene Lowenheim and Dr. Carl Mannich.1 The drug was designed as an alternative to pain relievers of the time. Hydrocodone side effects are much safer than the previously used pain relievers such as heroin or opium.2 Hydrocodone is typically taken orally and under medical supervision or approval.
Hydrocodone has a few generic names, including:
As a controlled substance, it can only be obtained from a pharmacy and with an active prescription. The most common street name is Hydro.
Hydrocodone is primarily a pain reliever. It’s often prescribed after surgery or in the event of severe and chronic pain. A hydrocodone dosage for post-surgical pain typically expires within weeks.
However, when prescribed for pain related to a debilitating injury or other prolonged ailments, the risk of dependency increases. In terms of treatment, there’s no major difference between hydrocodone, tramadol, or oxycodone. Hydrocodone can also be used to treat persistent coughs.
Hydrocodone has several side effects which can be either short or long-term. The most common hydrocodone side effects include:
There are several long-term hydrocodone side effects. Because hydrocodone is used to treat persistent, severe pain – which has few causes – it’s not common for hydrocodone prescription to last for years. This means that, while long-term hydrocodone side effects are possible when the drug is taken as intended, they are unlikely.
Typically, opioids such as hydrocodone are prescribed as short-term solutions. However, if tolerance or cravings develop, then it’s time to stop using the drug. Speak with a doctor to see if it is best to taper off the drug or quit it cold turkey. Signs of hydrocodone withdrawal include:
The common question of hydrocodone vs. oxycodone is a matter of choosing which one provides fewer side effects. Both are opioid pain relievers. However, oxycodone lasts up to 4 hours longer than hydrocodone.
The side effects differ as well. Oxycodone is reported to increase feelings of dizziness, whereas hydrocodone side effects induce more intense feelings of fatigue.6
Tramadol, an alternative to hydrocodone, is a longer-lasting option for pain relief. Tramadol can last up to 6 hours compared to hydrocodone, which lasts approximately 1-2 hours.
The choice between tramadol and hydrocodone depends on how long pain relief is needed. While tramadol is often considered the safer of the two, studies have shown that it possesses a high risk of addiction.7
The prescribed hydrocodone dosage is at the medical provider’s discretion and is based on a patient’s suspected pain levels.
In the event of tapering off, a medical professional will continuously prescribe weaker dosages. This staves off withdrawal and reduces the drug’s tolerance.
Dosages can only be changed by the prescribing doctor. If, for any reason, you’re experience pain from the recommended dosage – reach out to your doctor.
A common hydrocodone dosage is hydrocodone acetaminophen 5-325. The name refers to the potency of the drug. The 5 in 5-325 refers to the amount of hydrocodone, 5mg. The 325 is the amount of acetaminophen, 325mg. This dosage is considered average but can be overwhelming for smaller individuals. Patients must consult a doctor to find the right dosage. For reference, acetaminophen is a pain reliever and is mostly used in flu medicine as a fever reducer.