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Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen

Supportive Care

Brand names:

Lortab®, Vicodin®, Norco®, Lorcet®

Often used for:

Pain management

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What is hydrocodone with acetaminophen?

Hydrocodone is an opioid medicine used to manage pain. It is often used in combination with acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a medicine used to treat pain or fever. Hydrocodone may also be given as a combination medicine with ibuprofen.

This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home.

Follow dosing instructions carefully. You may be asked to keep a record of the doses your child takes so the care team can prescribe the best possible pain control. 

When used to treat pain over a long period of time, hydrocodone may cause physical dependence. Physical dependence is when the body starts to rely on the medicine and stopping the medicine too fast can result in unwanted side effects. Your care team will monitor for this and make a plan if the medicine must be stopped.  

Your care team may talk to you about having a medicine called naloxone available while taking this medicine. Naloxone is a rescue medicine that can reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Your care team may teach you and your family how to use this medicine in case an overdose of hydrocodone ever happens. 

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May be given as a tablet by mouth

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May be given as a liquid by mouth

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Possible side effects

  • Drowsiness, feeling tired, or feeling weak
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Itching 
  • Mood changes (feeling sadder or happier than usual)
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Fainting
  • Problems urinating (peeing)
  • Allergic reaction – Call your care team right away if your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction. These may include: 
    • Rash, hives, or itching
    • Flu-like symptoms such as chills, aches, headache, or fever 
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath, coughing, or tightness in the throat  
    • Swelling of the face or neck

This medicine can cause serious breathing problems. If your child has slow, shallow breathing or trouble breathing, call your care team right away.

Most side effects decrease after taking hydrocodone with acetaminophen for a couple of days. Tell your care team if side effects increase while taking this medicine.

Not all patients who take hydrocodone will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist. Find more information on side effects.

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Tips for patients and families

Be sure to discuss all questions and instructions with your doctor or pharmacist. 

  • Do not take this medicine more often or in greater amounts than recommended. 
  • If your child is taking this medicine regularly or for a long time, they should not stop this medicine until the care provider instructs. Stopping hydrocodone with acetaminophen without slowly decreasing the dose can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These include diarrhea, headache, sweating, muscle cramps, trouble sleeping, nausea, vomiting, or feeling restless. If these symptoms occur, call your care provider right away. It could mean the dose is being decreased too fast. 
  • Do not give your child other medicines that contain alcohol or allow your child to drink alcohol while they take this medicine.
  • If your child takes hydrocodone with acetaminophen, they should not take extra acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or medicines containing acetaminophen. This could result in a dose of acetaminophen that is too high. 
  • Certain medicines can interact with hydrocodone with acetaminophen. These include diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), promethazine, diazepam, lorazepam, antidepressants, and medicines to treat seizures. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medicines your child takes.   
  • If taking this medicine regularly, your child may need to increase fluid and fiber intake to help prevent constipation. Tell the care team if your child has not had a bowel movement (poop) in 3–5 days. They may need to take a stool softener or laxative to relieve constipation. 
  • This medicine may make your child dizzy or drowsy. Do not let your child do anything that could be dangerous until you see how this medicine affects them.
  • It is important that patients tell the care team if they are sexually active, pregnant, or breastfeeding. 

Hydrocodone at home:

  • This medicine can be taken with or without food. Take with food if stomach upset occurs. Taking the medicine with meals may lessen stomach problems.
  • For liquid hydrocodone with acetaminophen, only use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. Measure doses carefully.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time. 
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Do not share this medicine with anyone or give for reasons other than prescribed.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage and disposal.

This medicine may be habit forming when used long term. Watch for signs of misuse. Signs of misuse can be:

  • Regularly taking the medicine in a way that is different than prescribed by the care team
  • Taking more medicine than is prescribed
  • Taking the medicine “just in case,” even when not in pain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Poor or risky decision-making, such as putting themself or others in danger
  • Saying they have lost this medicine to get another prescription written