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Ultram vs. Vicodin

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Are Vicodin and Ultram the Same Thing?

Ultram (tramadol) and Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) are both used to treat pain. They are opioids, available by prescription only because of their potential for addiction.

Vicodin is a combination drug which contains acetaminophen as well as the opioid hydrocodone. The acetaminophen works to raise the pain threshold, while the hydrocodone floods the body's opioid receptors to reduce the pain sensation. Ultram is a synthetic opioid (as opposed to hydrocodone, which is only partially synthetic. It acts alone to flood the opioid receptors and kill pain.

A higher dose of Ultram is necessary to treat the same amount of pain as a low dose of Vicodin. Because of its potency, Vicodin tends to be more addictive than Ultram. That doesn't mean Ultram is safe. Both drugs are narcotics, in the same family as morphine, oxycodone, heroin, and opium. All of these are strongly addictive and can have severe withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly.

Side effects for both drugs - aside from potential addiction and withdrawal - may include dizziness, confusion, sedation, constipation and others.

Neither tramadol nor Vicodin should be taken with alcohol or other sedatives or tranquilizers because they may potentially magnify the effects. Particularly dangerous is the potential for respiratory depression, which can make you stop breathing if you take too much of either Vicodin or tramadol, or mix either of them with the wrong medication.

What Are Possible Side Effects of Ultram?

Ultram is available in generic form. Side effects of Ultram include:

  • agitation,
  • nervousness,
  • anxiety,
  • seizures (convulsions),
  • skin rash,
  • dizziness,
  • spinning sensation,
  • hallucinations,
  • fever,
  • fast heart rate,
  • overactive reflexes,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • upset stomach,
  • diarrhea,
  • constipation,
  • loss of coordination,
  • headache,
  • drowsiness, and
  • fainting.

What Are Possible Side Effects of Vicodin?

Common side effects of Vicodin include:

  • lightheadedness,
  • dizziness,
  • anxiety,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • upset stomach,
  • drowsiness,
  • constipation,
  • headache,
  • mood changes,
  • blurred vision,
  • ringing in your ears,
  • dry mouth, and
  • difficulty urinating.

What is Ultram?

Ultram is a strong prescription pain medicine that contains an opioid (narcotic) that is used for the management pain in adults, when other pain treatments such as non-opioid pain medicines do not treat your pain well enough or you cannot tolerate them. Ultram is an opioid pain medicine that can put you at risk for overdose and death. Even if you take your dose correctly as prescribed you are at risk for opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse that can lead to death

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a strong prescription pain medicine that contains an opioid (narcotic) that is used to manage pain severe enough to require an opioid pain medicine, when other pain treatments such as non-opioid pain medicines do not treat your pain well enough or you cannot tolerate them. Vicodin is an opioid pain medicine that can put you at risk for overdose and death. Even if you take your dose correctly as prescribed you are at risk for opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse that can lead to death.

What Drugs Interact With Ultram?

Ultram is contraindicated in patients receiving MAO inhibitors or who have used them within the previous 14 days.

The use of clozapine and lorazepam may produce marked sedation, excessive salivation, hypotension, ataxia, delirium, and respiratory arrest.

What Drugs Interact With Vicodin?

Patients receiving other narcotics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, antianxiety agents, or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) concomitantly with hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets may exhibit an additive CNS depression. When combined therapy is contemplated, the dose of one or both agents should be reduced.

The use of MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants with hydrocodone preparations may increase the effect of either the antidepressant or hydrocodone.

How Should Ultram Be Taken?

Do not change your dose. Take Ultram exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time needed.

Take your prescribed dose as indicated by your health care provider. The maximum dosage is 1 or 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours, as needed for pain relief. Do not take more than your prescribed dose and do not take more than 8 tablets per day. If you miss a dose, take your next dose at your usual time.

Call your healthcare provider if the dose you are taking does not control your pain.

If you have been taking Ultram regularly, do not stop taking Ultram without talking to your healthcare provider.

After you stop taking Ultram, ask your pharmacist how to dispose of any unused tablets.

How Should Vicodin Be Taken?

Do not change your dose. Take Vicodin exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time needed.

Take your prescribed dose every four to six hours as needed for pain. Do not take more than your prescribed dose. If you miss a dose, take your next dose at your usual time.

Call your healthcare provider if the dose you are taking does not control your pain. If you have been taking Vicodin regularly, do not stop taking Vicodin without talking to your healthcare provider. After you stop taking Vicodin, the unused tablets should be disposed of by flushing down the toilet.

Reviewed on 10/23/2018

Reference:
RxList. Vicodin Side Effects Drug Center.
https://www.rxlist.com/vicodin-side-effects-drug-center.htm
RxList. Ultram Side Effects Drug Center.
https://www.rxlist.com/ultram-side-effects-drug-center.htm
DailyMed. Vicodin Prescribing Information.
https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=5fc0e987-61c9-40c4-b0d5-fcea07c8733e&type=display

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