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What is Codeine?

Codeine is an opiate/opioid medication, sometimes known as a narcotic. It is helpful for the treatment of mild to moderate pain, coughing, and diarrhea. Combining Codeine with Acetaminophen (paracetamol) or an NSAID (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen or aspirin gives the best results.

Codeine works by putting a stop to pain signals from traveling along the nerves of the brain. It relieves the pain by holding the pain signals to move further to the brain through nerves. There is no evidence of its working in children or adults as an acute cough suppressant.

Codeine is an endogenous compound accompanying morphine, which one can find in nonhuman pirates’ brains with depolarized neurons. It indicates that Codeine may function as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS). Its other medicinal use includes diarrhea; or diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes, it helps during cancer pain also, but it leads to the emergence of side effects.

Important Information

You should avoid using Codeine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • A blockage in your intestines or stomach;
  • Asthma (severe) or breathing problems; or
  • Hyperventilation or frequent asthma attacks

This medicine 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.

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.

This medicine is not under the recommendation for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

What to know before taking Codeine?

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

Interaction of some medicines with Codeine can cause a severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Make clear to your doctor if you are taking:

  • Stimulant medicine;
  • Herbal products; or
  • Medicine for depression, mental illness, migraine headaches, Parkinson’s disease, serious infections, or prevention of vomiting and nausea.

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.

How to take Codeine?

Take Codeine precisely as per the doctor’s prescription. Read carefully 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 your doctor’s advice on how to stop using this medicine.

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.

Codeine dosage

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).

Usual adult dosage for pain:

  • Initial dose- 15 mg to 60 mg within every 6 hours as needed
  • Maximum amount- 360 mg a day.

Overdose

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 alcohol consumption because it may lead to dangerous side effects, or death could occur.

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

Go for emergency medical help if you have allergic reactions due to the use of Codeine. Signs of an allergic reaction include issues with breathing, hives, swelling of your face, throat, lips, or tongue.

Contact your medical health care professional if you have:

  • A slow heart rate or weak pulse;
  • Shallow breathing, noisy breathing, sighing, breathing that stops during sleep;
  • Hallucinations, confusion, agitation, unusual thoughts or behavior;
  • Feeling light-headed;
  • Seizures;
  • Feeling of extreme sadness or happiness;
  • Urination problems; or
  • Low cortisol levels- vomiting, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, worsening weakness or tiredness

Common side effects of Codeine may include:

  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting;
  • Feeling drowsy or dizzy;
  • Sweating;
  • Constipation; or
  • Rash or mild itching

It is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Take your doctor’s medical advice regarding side effects. Report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What drugs can interact with Codeine?

Interaction of various drugs with opioids can be dangerous or cause death. It includes cold or allergy medicines, other narcotics, any sedative like Valium, medications that cause sleepiness or slow down your breathing, medicines for irritable bowel syndrome or overactive bladder, or drugs that affect serotonin levels.

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