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What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is an opioid pain medication that contains an amalgamation of hydrocodone and acetaminophen (paracetamol). Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medicine (opioids are called a narcotic). Acetaminophen or paracetamol is a comparatively less potent pain reliever drug that increases the hydrocodone effects. Vicodin helps treat moderate to moderately severe pain, and it is available in generic form.
Vicodin may impair your mental health or physical abilities that you need to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a vehicle or operating machinery. Hence, it would help if you read the FDA-approved patient labeling before using it. You should know that using Vicodin tablets can result in abuse, misuse, and addiction, leading you to overdose and death.
What to know before taking Vicodin?
Don’t use Vicodin if you have been taking an MAO inhibitor for the past two weeks. It can lead to a dangerous interaction. MAO inhibitors include tranylcypromine, rasagiline, selegiline, linezolid, isocarboxazid, and phenelzine. To ensure Vicodin is not harmful to you, inform the doctor if you have ever had:
- Liver disease;
- Sleep apnea, breathing problems;
- Kidney disease;
- A drug or alcohol addiction;
- Urination problems;
- A head injury or seizures; or
- Problems with your pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder
Older adults are more likely to face breathing problems because of Vicodin. Avoid using this medicine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
How to take Vicodin?
Take Vicodin precisely as per the prescription. Read carefully & follow all the directions on the instruction sheets. Never take Vicodin in smaller or larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Tell the doctor if you think that the medicine stops working well in relieving your pain. If you are feeling an increased desire to use this medication, inform your doctor. An overdose of Vicodin can adversely affect your liver or cause death. Vicodin may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share it with someone else, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Misuse of narcotic medicine like Vicodin can cause overdose, addiction, or death, especially in a child or someone taking it without a prescription. If you need any medical test or surgery, prior inform the doctor that you are taking Vicodin. Your doctor may suggest you stop taking this medicine for a short time. Do not suddenly stop taking Vicodin after long-term use, or you may face unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Take medical help to stop using this medicine safely. Store Vicodin away from heat and moisture at room temperature. Keep track of the amount of medicine in your bottle. Vicodin is a drug of abuse, so be aware of misusing it or taking it without a prescription. Always check the bottle to ensure you are buying the correct pills (same brand and type) of the medication your doctor recommended.
Your doctor may initiate your treatment with the lowest effective dose. Although, your dosage will depend upon your age, your medical condition that needs treatment with Vicodin, your initial response to the treatment with this drug, other medical conditions you have, and other medication you are taking or planning to take. The usual dosage is one tablet or two every four to six hours as needed for pain. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed eight tablets.
In case of an overdose of Vicodin, call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, slow or shallow breathing, vomiting, loss of appetite, sweating, stomach or abdominal pain, slow heartbeat, extreme tiredness, dark urine, coma, yellowing of eyes or skin.
What to avoid while using Vicodin?
Vicodin may cause impairment in your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving any vehicle or operating any heavy machinery until you know this medicine’s effect on you. Severe drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidental falls or injuries. Ask a medical health care provider before using any other allergy, cold, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (APAP) is available in many combination medicines. It can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label before buying any medicine for cold, allergy, pain, or sleep. Avoid consumption of alcohol because it may increase your liver damage risk while using acetaminophen.
Vicodin side effects
Common side effects of Vicodin may include:
- Upset stomach
- Mood changes
- Ringing in your ears
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty urinating, and
- Dry mouth
Call 911 or consult with your medical healthcare provider if you have any severe side effects, including:
- Slow heartbeat;
- Shallow breathing;
- Unusual thoughts or behavior;
- Upper stomach pain;
- Seizure (or convulsions);
- Loss of appetite;
- Clay-colored stools;
- Dark urine; or
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
Other adverse reactions of Vicodin may include:
- Central Nervous System (CNS): mental clouding, drowsiness, impairment of cognitive ability and physical performance, lethargy, fear, anxiety, psychological dependence, dysphoria, mood changes
- Genitourinary system: spasm of vesical sphincters, ureteral spasm, and urinary retention
- Gastrointestinal System: Constipation
- Dermatological: pruritus, skin rash, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-johnson syndrome, allergic reaction
- Special senses: hearing impairment or permanent hearing loss
- Hematological: agranulocytosis, Thrombocytopenia
What drugs can interact with Vicodin?
Interaction of some medicines with hydrocodone can cause a severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Ensure that your medical healthcare provider knows if you are using any medication for asthma (severe), breathing issues, or stomach or intestinal blockage. Vicodin can interact with various other drugs and cause fatal side effects. Ensure that your doctor knows if you also use:
- Medicines for overactive bladder, irritable bowel syndrome, or motion sickness;
- Bronchodilator asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) medication, cold or allergy medicines, or a diuretic “water pill”;
- A sedative like Valium- Versed, Klonopin, Xanax, lorazepam, alprazolam, diazepam, and others;
- Other opioids- prescription cough medicine or opioid pain drug;
- Drugs that affect serotonin levels- a stimulant or medicine for nausea and vomiting, serious infections, migraine headaches, depression, or Parkinson’s disease;
- Drugs that cause sleepiness or slow down your breathing- medicine to treat mood changes or mental illness, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer.
It is not a complete list of all possible side effects as this drug can interact with other prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, herbal products, or vitamins. For further information regarding drug interactions and their side effects, consult your medical healthcare provider.