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What is Codeine?
Codeine is a prescription medication that helps treat symptoms of moderate to severe pain. It belongs to the Antitussives category of drugs, including narcotics, opioid analgesics, antitussives. It is still unknown whether Codeine is safe and effective in children younger than 12 years of age or not. Combining Codeine with Acetaminophen (paracetamol) or an NSAID (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen or aspirin gives the best results. Sometimes, it helps during cancer pain also, but it leads to the emergence of side effects. There is no evidence of its working in children or adults as an acute cough suppressant.
Codeine can slow your breathing (like other narcotic drugs). If breathing becomes too shallow, death may occur. Your attendant should take emergency medical help if you have blue-colored lips, slow breathing with long pauses, or if you are hard to wake up. Codeine is not under the recommendation for use by anyone younger than 18 years old. And, you could give birth to a drug-dependent baby if you are using this medicine during pregnancy. Consult your doctor about how to change your doses during this time effectively. Avoid breastfeeding while taking Codeine.
What to know before taking Codeine?
Before taking Codeine, check with your medical healthcare provider if you are allergic to it or if you have any of the following health issues:
- A blockage in your intestines or stomach;
- Asthma (severe) or breathing problems; or
- Hyperventilation or frequent asthma attacks
Some people face a quick break of Codeine in the liver that reaches higher than normal body levels. It can cause slow breathing (dangerously) and may cause death, especially in a child. To ensure Codeine is safe for you, tell each of your medical healthcare providers if you have ever had:
- Sleep apnea, breathing problems;
- Liver disease;
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, or breathing disorders;
- Kidney disease;
- Abnormal curvature of the spine (affects breathing);
- Low blood pressure;
- A head injury or brain tumor;
- A gallbladder or pancreas disorder;
- Blockage in your digestive tract (intestines/stomach);
- Addison's disease or another adrenal gland disorder;
- Underactive thyroid;
- Drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness; or
- Urination problems, enlarged prostate
How to take Codeine?
Take Codeine precisely as per the doctor's prescription. Read attentively and follow all the directions on the prescription label, medication guides, or instruction sheets. This medicine can stop or slow your breathing. Never use this medicine in smaller or larger amounts or longer than recommended. Tell your doctor if Codeine is not relieving your pain effectively or if it seems to stop working. Even at regular doses, Codeine may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with someone else, especially someone with a past of drug abuse or addiction. Misuse of a narcotic medicine like Codeine can cause addiction, overdose, or death, mainly if a child or another person uses it without a prescription. It is against the lawful act to sell it or give it away. Do not go for a sudden stop on Codeine after a longer-term use; otherwise, you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Take Codeine with milk or food if it upsets your stomach. Drink six to eight glasses of water regularly to help prevent constipation while you are taking this medicine. Ask your doctor before using a laxative (stool softener). Store it away from heat and moisture at room temperature. Keep track of your drug. Be aware if anyone is misusing your medication or without taking a prescription because Codeine is a drug of abuse. Avoid keeping leftover opioid medication. If someone uses this medicine accidentally or improperly, only one dose can cause death. Mix the excess drug with coffee grounds or cat litter in a sealed bag and throw it in the trash.
Your Codeine dosage will depend upon your age, medical condition for which the treatment is going on, your initial response to the therapy with Codeine, other medical conditions you have, and other drugs you take. Usual adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years) for pain:
- Initial dose- 15 mg to 60 mg within every 6 hours as needed
- Maximum amount- 360 mg a day.
Take Codeine with milk or food if it upsets your stomach. Drink six to eight glasses of water regularly to help prevent constipation while you are taking this medicine. Ask your doctor before using a laxative (stool softener).
In case of overdose, take medical help or call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. A Codeine overdose can be deadly, especially in a child or someone taking it without a prescription. Overdose can cause extreme drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, severe muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, prolonged breathing, or coma.
What to avoid while using Codeine?
Avoid consuming alcohol or any alcoholic beverages as it may lead to dangerous side effects or death. There might be impairment of your thinking or reactions due to the use of Codeine. Avoid operating machinery or driving a vehicle until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness (severe) can cause falls or other accidental injuries.
Codeine side effects
Interaction of some medicines with Codeine can cause a severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Consult your doctor if you are taking any herbal product, stimulation medicine, or medications for depression, mental illness, migraine headaches, Parkinson's disease, serious infections, or prevention of vomiting and nausea. Codeine use can cause sweating, nausea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, or lightheadedness. Severe side effects to Codeine may include:
- Interrupted breathing during sleep;
- Stomach or abdominal pain;
- Difficulty in urination;
- Fast or slow heartbeat;
- Changes in vision;
- Mental disorders or mood changes such as depression, agitation, hallucinations; or
- Signs of improper functioning of adrenal glands such as unusual tiredness, loss of appetite, weight loss
It is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. For further information regarding side effects, consult your medical healthcare provider. You may report the aftermath of taking Codeine to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What drugs can interact with Codeine?
Interaction of some medicines with Codeine can cause a severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Inform your medical healthcare provider if you are taking any of the following:
- Stimulant medicine;
- Herbal products; or
- Medicine for depression, mental illness, migraine headaches, Parkinson's disease, serious infections, or prevention of vomiting and nausea.