- Surprising Reasons You're in Pain Slideshow
- Take the Pain Quiz
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- What is codeine? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for codeine?
- What are the side effects of codeine?
- Is codeine addictive? Is it a controlled substance?
- Can I drink alcohol with codeine? What other drugs interact with codeine?
- What is the dosage for codeine? How is it taken?
- Is it safe to take codeine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about codeine?
What is codeine? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
Codeine is a narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine and hydrocodone. Moreover, a small amount of codeine is converted to morphine in the body. The precise mechanism of action of codeine is not known; however, like morphine, codeine binds to receptors in the brain (opioid receptors) that are important for transmitting the sensation of pain throughout the body and brain. Codeine increases tolerance to pain, decreasing discomfort, but the pain still is apparent to the patient. In addition to reducing pain, codeine also causes sedation drowsiness and depresses breathing. Codeine frequently is combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin for more effective pain relief. The FDA approved codeine in 1950.
What are the uses for codeine?
Codeine is used for the relief of mild to moderately severe pain and for suppressing cough.
What are the side effects of codeine?
The most frequent side effects of codeine include:
- Shortness of breath
- Allergic reactions
- Abdominal pain
Serious side effects of codeine include:
Is codeine addictive? Is it a controlled substance?
Codeine is habit forming (addictive). Mental and physical dependence can occur but are unlikely when used for short-term pain relief. Using codeine during pregnancy can cause opioid withdrawal syndrome in the newborn, which may be life-threatening if not treated.
If codeine is suddenly withdrawn after prolonged use, symptoms of withdrawal may develop. The dose of codeine should be reduced gradually in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Can I drink alcohol with codeine? What other drugs interact with codeine?
- Codeine can impair thinking and physical abilities required for driving or operating machinery.
- Alcohol and other sedatives such as alprazolam (Xanax) can produce further brain impairment and even confusion when combined with codeine. Therefore, alcohol and other sedatives should not be used when taking codeine.
- Drugs that stimulate and also block opioid receptors (for example, pentazocine) reduce the effect of codeine. Such drugs should not be combined with codeine.
- Drugs that block the action of acetylcholine (anticholinergic drugs) increase the occurrence of urinary retention and constipation when combined with codeine.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) class of antidepressants (for example, isocarboxazid [Marplan], phenelzine [Nardil], tranylcypromine [Parnate], selegiline [Eldepryl], and procarbazine [Matulane]) significantly increase the action of codeine. Codeine should not be used in patients taking MAOIs or within 14 days of stopping MAOIs.
What is the dosage for codeine? How is it taken?
- The usual adult dose of codeine for pain is 15-60 mg every 4-6 hours as needed.
- The dose for cough is 10 to 20 mg every 4-6 hours as needed.
- The maximum dose for treating cough is 120 mg every 24 hours.
Is it safe to take codeine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Small amounts of codeine are secreted in breast milk, but the risk of adverse events in the infant is small.
What else should I know about codeine?
Codeine is available as:
- Tablets: 15, 30, 60 mg.
- Solution: 15 mg/5ml (teaspoon).
- Injection: 15 and 30 mg/ml.
Codeine should be stored between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
You need a prescription from your doctor to obtain codeine.
Latest Chronic Pain News
Daily Health News
Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever (analgesic) used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It is frequently combined with Tylenol or aspirin for more effective pain relief. Common side effects include itching, rash, stomach pain, constipation, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, and dizziness.
More serious adverse effects codeine are severe low blood pressure, adrenal insufficiency,
Codeine is a controlled narcotic and it has potential for abuse. People with current or previous drug addiction problems should be monitored closely for addiction. Dependence and addiction can occur with codeine, even at prescribed dosages when taken over long periods. Misuse of codeine can lead to serious cardiac events and sudden death.
It is important to be aware of drug interactions, effects on pregnancy and nursing mothers, as well as common side effects on the user.
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Related Disease Conditions
Cough: 19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe cough including irritants like cigarette and secondhand smoke, pollution, air fresheners, medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, the common cold, GERD, lung cancer, and heart disease.Natural and home remedies to help cure and soothe a cough include stay hydrated, gargle saltwater, use cough drops or lozenges, use herbs and supplements like ginger, mint, licorice, and slippery elm, and don't smoke. Over-the-counter products (OTC)to cure and soothe a cough include cough suppressants and expectorants, and anti-reflux drugs. Prescription drugs that help cure a cough include narcotic medications, antibiotics, inhaled steroids, and anti-reflux drugs like proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, for example, omeprazole (Prilosec), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and pantoprazole (Protonix).
Liver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases, for example, gallstones, high cholesterol or triglycerides, blood flow obstruction to the liver, and toxins (medications and chemicals). Symptoms of liver disease depends upon the cause and may include nausea, vomiting, upper right abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment depends upon the cause of the liver disease.
Kidney Pain: Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes
Kidney pain has a variety of causes and symptoms. Infection, injury, trauma, bleeding disorders, kidney stones, and less common conditions may lead to kidney pain. Symptoms associated with kidney pain may include fever, vomiting, nausea, flank pain, and painful urination. Treatment of kidney pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Fever in Adults and Children
Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URTI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
Low Back Pain (Lumbar Spine Pain)
There are many causes of back pain. Pain in the low back can relate to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)
The anterior cruciate ligament helps to prevent the top and bottom of the knee from sliding back and forth. Symptoms and signs of a torn ACL include knee pain and swelling. Treatment of a torn ACL depends upon the health of the patient and the patient's expectations and willingness to undertake extensive physical therapy. Rehabilitation after surgical repair of an ACL tear may take more than nine months.
Foot pain may be caused by injuries (sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures), diseases (diabetes, Hansen disease, and gout), viruses, fungi, and bacteria (plantar warts and athlete's foot), or even ingrown toenails. Pain and tenderness may be accompanied by joint looseness, swelling, weakness, discoloration, and loss of function. Minor foot pain can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation and OTC medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Severe pain should be treated by a medical professional.
Acute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee pain include redness, swelling, difficulty walking, and locking of the knee. To diagnose knee pain, a physician will perform a physical exam and also may order X-rays, arthrocentesis, blood tests, or a CT scan or MRI. Treatment of knee pain depends upon the cause of the pain.
A toothache is pain on or around a tooth. It may have a variety of causes, including a cavity, abscess, or even sinusitis. Toothache symptoms include pain, headache, earache, bad taste in the mouth, and gum swelling. Dental X-rays and other tests performed by a dentist are used to diagnose the cause of a toothache. Toothache treatment depends on the underlying cause. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can help prevent toothache.
Chronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease. Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
Drug-Induced Liver Disease
Drug-induced liver diseases are diseases of the liver that are caused by: physician-prescribed medications, OTC medications, vitamins, hormones, herbs, illicit (recreational) drugs, and environmental toxins. Read about the signs and symptoms of drug-induced liver disease like hepatitis (inflammation of the liver cells), liver disease treatment, and types.
Ankle Pain (Tendinitis)
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs in cells that make up the bones. Primary bone cancer that arises in bone cells is different than metastatic bone cancer, which is cancer that arises in another part of the body and then spreads to the bones. Hereditary and environmental factors likely contribute to the risk of bone cancer. Signs and symptoms of bone cancer may include pain, the presence of a mass or lump, and bone fractures. There are different types of bone cancer (osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, pleomorphic sarcoma, fibrosarcoma). Treatment for bone cancer may include surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or a stem cell transplant. The prognosis for bone cancer depends on the type of cancer and the extent of spread.
An abscessed tooth is an infection within a tooth that has spread to the root. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, and the presence of a pus-filled lesion on the gum. A dental professional diagnoses an abscessed tooth and dental X-rays may be required. An abscessed tooth is treated with a root canal.
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
Sacroiliac joint (SI) dysfunction is a general term to reflect pain in the SI joints. Causes of SI joint pain include osteoarthritis, abnormal walking pattern, and disorders that can cause SI joint inflammation including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment includes oral medications, cortisone injections, and surgery.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that people get in their late teens or early twenties. Impacted wisdom teeth that only partially erupt allows for an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Before your wisdom teeth are pulled, the teeth and the surrounding tissue will be numbed with a local anesthetic. Recovery from wisdom tooth removal depends upon the difficulty of the extraction.
Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)
Neck pain (cervical pain) may be caused by any number of disorders and diseases. Tenderness is another symptom of neck pain. Though treatment for neck pain really depends upon the cause, treatment typically may involve heat/ice application, traction, physical therapy, cortisone injection, topical anesthetic creams, and muscle relaxants.
Shoulder and Neck Pain
Shoulder and neck pain may be caused by bursitis, a pinched nerve, whiplash, tendinitis, a herniated disc, or a rotator cuff injury. Symptoms also include weakness, numbness, coolness, color changes, swelling, and deformity. Treatment at home may incorporate resting, icing, and elevating the injury. A doctor may prescribe pain medications and immobilize the injury.
The shoulder is the most often dislocated joint in the body due to its mobility. Dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus is dislocated from its socket. Symptoms and signs of a shoulder dislocation include nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, weakness, and sweating. There are various methods of reducing a dislocation and returning the humeral head to its normal place. The method for reduction of a shoulder dislocation depends upon the type of dislocation, the patient, the situation, and the clinician's experience. Intravenous narcotics and muscle relaxants are often administered to relax the muscles and relieve pain.
Dengue fever is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms and signs of dengue include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, rash, and swollen glands. Since dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine to treat it. Treatment instead focuses on relieving the symptoms.
Pericarditis (Symptoms, ECG, Types, Causes, Treatment)
Pericarditis is the inflammation of the pericardial sac that surrounds the heart. The causes of pericarditis include injury from heart attack, heart surgery, trauma, viral or fungal infection, HIV, tumors, mixed connective tissue disease, metabolic disease, medication reactions, or unknown reasons. Treatment for pericarditis is generally medication, however, sometimes surgery is necessary.
Pain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Some causes of neuropathic pain include: complex regional pain syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. There are a variety of methods to treat chronic pain, which are dependant on the type of pain experienced.
Elbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
Arthritis, bursitis, IT band syndrome, fracture, and strain are just some of the causes of hip pain. Associated symptoms and signs include swelling, tenderness, difficulty sleeping on the hip, and loss of range of motion of the hip. Treatment depends upon the cause of the hip pain but may include anti-inflammatory medications and icing and resting the hip joint.
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Cold, Flu, Allergy Treatments
Before treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
Children's Cough Causes and Treatments
Children's cough causes include infection, acid reflux, asthma, allergies or sinus infection, whooping cough, and exposure to irritants. Treatment for a child's cough include cough medicine for children over the age of four.
Chronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
Pain Management: Musculoskeletal Pain
Natural menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation that is not brought on by any type of medical treatment. For women undergoing natural menopause, the process is described in three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. However, not all women undergo natural menopause. Some women experience induced menopause as a result of surgery or medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and pelvic radiation therapy.
Cancer pain results from the tumor pressing on nerves or invading bones or organs. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery can also cause pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, radiation, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques are just some treatments for cancer pain.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Headaches FAQs
- Back Pain FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Pain (Acute and Chronic)
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Prescription Drug Abuse
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- Pain Medications (Narcotics)
- Oxycodone vs. Codeine
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco)
- Dilaudid vs. Oxycodone
- montelukast, Singulair
- Ketorolac vs. tramadol
- Ketorolac vs. hydrocodone
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- Side Effects of Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen)
- Side Effects of Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Cold Medicine and Cough Syrup for Adults
- Side Effects of Norflex (orphenadrine)
- Codeine Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- Side Effects of Phenergan with Codeine (promethazine and codeine)
Prevention & Wellness
- U.S. Government Urges Caution When Taking Patients Off Opioid Painkillers
- Purdue Pharma to Settle Opioid Crisis Lawsuits, May Pay Up to $12 Billion
- U.S. Opioid Prescription Rate Is 7 Times That of Sweden
- Fewer Opioid Painkillers Can Still Control Surgery Pain
- Are Too Many Kids Prescribed Antihistamines?
- Sixty People Charged in Massive Opioid Painkiller Investigation
- Insurers' Denials of Opioid Coverage Spurs CDC to Clarify Guidelines
- Opioid Rxs Decreasing, But Not for All Doctors
- Before Teen Is Prescribed Opioids, Look at Family's Drug Use
- Opioid Overdose Deaths Quadruple, Centered in 8 States
- Too Often, Opioid Abuse Runs in the Family, Study Shows
- Codeine: An Opioid Threat to Kids
- Prescription Opioids May Raise Pneumonia Risk
- Can Herbal Drug Kratom Kill?
- Health Tip: Manage Pain With Opioids
- Doctors Curbing First-Time Prescriptions for Opioids
- ER Docs Prescribe More Opioids Than They Realize
- Opioid ODs Have Cut Into U.S. Life Expectancy: CDC
- Addicts Try to Avoid Deadly Fentanyl, But Many Tragically Fail
- Opioid-Related Deaths Might Be Underestimated: CDC
- Rehab Services Lacking in States Hit Hard by Opioids
- Drug OD Deaths Have Nearly Tripled Since 1999: CDC
- Kids' OD Risk Rises When Opioids Left Out at Home
- Some Docs May Help Fuel Opioid Abuse Epidemic
- What You Need to Know When Prescribed an Opioid Painkiller
- What Is Kratom? Why Does the DEA Want to Ban It?
- Codeine Not Safe for Kids, Pediatricians Warn
- Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Need for Other Meds?
- Programs to Spot Painkiller Abuse Work, But Are Underused
- Painkillers Don't Ease Disability Due to Nerve Damage: Study
- Opioids: What Patients -- and Doctors -- Think
- Primary Care Docs the Leading Prescribers of Narcotic Painkillers: Study
- Abuse of Prescription Painkillers, Stimulants Ups Sexual Risks for Teens
- Prescription Meds: Too Common in Pregnancy?
- Who's Most Likely to Get Addicted to Their Narcotic Painkiller?
- Many Doctors Underestimate Risks of Prescription Painkillers: Survey
- It May Soon Be Possible to Easily 'Brew' Narcotics
- New Moms' Codeine Use Down Since Health Warnings
- Wider Use of Naloxone Could Cut Deaths From Drug Overdoses: CDC
- More U.S. Newborns Enduring Drug Withdrawal: Study
- Narcotic Painkillers in Pregnancy Common, Harmful to Baby: Study
- One-Quarter of Narcotic Painkillers Misused, Study Shows
- Big Increase Seen in Babies Born Addicted to Narcotics
- Morphine After Tonsillectomy Tied to Breathing Problems in Study
- Many Women of Childbearing Age Take Narcotic Painkillers: CDC
- Study Rates Migraine Medications
- Painkiller Tramadol Linked to Low Blood Sugar
- For a Child's Fracture, Use Ibuprofen, Not Morphine: Study
- Doctors' Group Issues Painkiller Guidelines
- U.S. to Tighten Access to Certain Narcotic Painkillers
- Many U.S. Workers on Disability Use Narcotic Painkillers, Study Finds
- Abuse of Prescription Painkillers on the Rise Among High School Athletes: Survey
- Too Much Codeine Still Prescribed to U.S. Kids: Study
- Reports of U.S. Cases of Flesh-Eating Drug Questioned
- After Tonsillectomy, Over-the-Counter Painkillers Suffice, Study Says
- 'Krokodil' Drug FAQ
- FDA Announces New Safety Measures for Narcotic Painkillers
- Some Painkillers Tied to Certain Birth Defects in Study
- Most Medications OK During Breast-Feeding, Report Says
- Vaccine to Fight Heroin Addiction Shows Promise in Rats
- Codeine Risky for Kids After Certain Surgeries, FDA Says
- Program to Spot Painkiller ODs Saves Lives: Study
- More Sleep May Help Some People Feel Less Pain
- Antibiotics Don't Ease Coughs in Kids With Common Cold: Study
- FDA: Codeine May Be Risky for Kids After Surgery
- Codeine After Surgery Could Endanger Certain Kids: Study
- Seniors' Long-Term Use of Strong Painkillers a Concern
- More Newborns Suffering Drug Withdrawal at Birth
- Deaths From Drug Poisoning in the U.S Jump by Sixfold
- Opioid Painkillers Linked to Birth Defects
- FDA Warns of Acetaminophen in Prescription Pain Drugs
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.