codeine



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What is codeine?

Codeine is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain medicines.

Codeine is used to treat mild to moderate pain.

Codeine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about codeine?

Codeine may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Codeine should never be given to another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking codeine. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with a narcotic pain medicine. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.

Never take more than your prescribed dose of codeine. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Codeine can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Do not stop using codeine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking codeine?

Do not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a narcotic medicine (examples include codeine, methadone, morphine, Oxycontin, Darvocet, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, and many others). You should also not take codeine if you are having an asthma attack or if you have a bowel obstruction called paralytic ileus.

Codeine may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Codeine should never be given to another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Before using codeine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders
  • liver or kidney disease
  • underactive thyroid
  • curvature of the spine
  • a history of head injury or brain tumor
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder
  • low blood pressure
  • gallbladder disease
  • Addison's disease or other adrenal gland disorders
  • enlarged prostate, urination problems
  • mental illness; or
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby, and could cause breathing problems or addiction/withdrawal symptoms in a newborn. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Codeine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. The use of codeine by some nursing mothers may lead to life-threatening side effects in the baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of this medicine.

How should I take codeine?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Never take codeine in larger amounts, or use it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Take codeine with food or milk if it upsets your stomach.

Do not stop using codeine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication.

Store codeine at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of how many pills have been used from each new bottle of this medicine. Codeine is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since codeine is taken as needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are taking the medication regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and wait until your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of codeine can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, confusion, cold and clammy skin, weak pulse, shallow breathing, fainting, or breathing that stops.

What should I avoid while taking codeine?

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking this medication. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with codeine. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.

This medication can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

What are the possible side effects of codeine?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • shallow breathing, slow heartbeat
  • feeling light-headed, fainting
  • confusion, agitation, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior
  • seizure (convulsions); or
  • problems with urination.

Less serious side effects include:

  • feeling dizzy or drowsy
  • nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • sweating
  • headache
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • loss of interest in sex
  • dry mouth
  • blurred vision; or
  • mild skin rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect codeine?

Do not take codeine with other narcotic pain medications, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, or other medicines that can make you sleepy or slow your breathing. Dangerous side effects may result.

There may be other drugs that can interact with codeine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about codeine.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.