Generic Name: codeine
- What is codeine?
- What are the possible side effects of codeine?
- What is the most important information I should know about codeine?
- What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking codeine?
- How should I take codeine?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
- What happens if I overdose?
- What should I avoid while taking codeine?
- What other drugs will affect codeine?
- Where can I get more information?
What is codeine?
Codeine is an opioid medication used to treat mild to moderately severe pain.
Codeine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What are the possible side effects of codeine?
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Opioid medicine can slow or stop your breathing, and death may occur. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep;
- a slow heart rate or weak pulse;
- a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
- confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior;
- feelings of extreme happiness or sadness;
- seizure (convulsions);
- problems with urination; or
- low cortisol levels--nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness.
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.
Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.
Common side effects include:
- feeling dizzy or drowsy;
- constipation; or
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is the most important information I should know about codeine?
MISUSE OF OPIOID MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.
Do not give this medicine to anyone younger than 12 years old, or anyone under 18 who recently had surgery to remove the tonsils or adenoids.
Taking opioid medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Fatal side effects can occur if you use opioid medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.
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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking codeine?
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
- severe asthma or breathing problems;
- a blockage in your stomach or intestines; or
- frequent asthma attacks or hyperventilation.
In some people, codeine breaks down rapidly in the liver and reaches higher than normal levels in the body. This can cause dangerously slow breathing and may cause death.
Codeine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.
Do not give this medicine to anyone younger than 18 years old who recently had surgery to remove the tonsils or adenoids.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver or kidney disease;
- breathing problems, sleep apnea;
- abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing;
- a head injury or brain tumor;
- low blood pressure;
- blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines);
- problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid;
- Addison's disease or other adrenal gland disorder;
- enlarged prostate, urination problems; or
- mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction.
If you use opioid medicine while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on opioids may need medical treatment for several weeks.
Do not breast-feed while taking codeine. This medicine can pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, breathing problems, or death in a nursing baby.
How should I take codeine?
Follow the directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides. Never use codeine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to take more of this medicine.
Never share opioid medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away opioid medicine is against the law.
Take codeine with food or milk if it upsets your stomach.
Do not stop using codeine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.
Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, mix the leftover medicine with cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealed plastic bag throw the bag in the trash.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since codeine is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A codeine overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose can cause severe muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, very slow breathing, extreme drowsiness, or coma.
What should I avoid while taking codeine?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.
Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.
What other drugs will affect codeine?
You may have breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms if you start or stop taking certain other medicines. Tell your doctor if you also use an antibiotic, antifungal medication, heart or blood pressure medication, seizure medication, or medicine to treat HIV or hepatitis C.
Opioid medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:
- cold or allergy medicines, bronchodilator asthma/COPD medication, or a diuretic ("water pill");
- medicines for motion sickness, irritable bowel syndrome, or overactive bladder;
- other narcotic medications--opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;
- a sedative like Valium--diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Xanax, Klonopin, Versed, and others;
- drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing--a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, medicine to treat mood disorders or mental illness; or
- drugs that affect serotonin levels in your body--a stimulant, or medicine for depression, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or nausea and vomiting.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect codeine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.
Where can I get more information?
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about codeine.
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