What is Codeine?

Codeine is an opiate that can be used to treat pain in patients, and it is classified as a narcotic pain medicine. This drug is similar to hydrocodone or morphine, and it can decrease discomfort in patients that are suffering from pain-related issues. Codeine is also available in combination with aspirin or acetaminophen, and it is commonly prescribed as Tylenol with codeine.

It can come as a liquid solution to be taken by the mouth, a capsule, or a tablet. It is important that directions found on prescription labels be followed carefully, and it should be taken exactly as directed by a doctor or pharmacist.

Codeine Uses

codeineCodeine is used to relieve mild or moderate pain. In combination with other medications, it can also be used to reduce coughing. It works to relieve the symptoms of pain, but it does not treat the cause of those symptoms, and it does not work to speed up the recovery process. Codeine works by changing the way a body senses pain, and when it is used to treat coughing, it works by decreasing the activity within the part of the brain that triggers coughing.

Codeine Side Effects

Codeine is not safe for all users, as it has the ability to cause side effects which can range from common, such as stomach pain, constipation, and nausea, to more serious conditions like hallucinations, renal failure, or vision changes. Although rare, these side effects are a cause for concern, so patients should thoroughly understand the codeine side effects risks before taking this medication.

Common Codeine Side Effects

he use of codeine may cause side effects on patients. A doctor should be consulted if any of these side effects, although common, are severe or do not go away. Some of the most common side effects of this medication include:

Difficulty with urination
Stomach pain
Mood change

In order to minimize potential side effects, it is important for patients that are prescribed codeine to tell their physician and pharmacist about any other medications, nutritional supplements, vitamins, or herbal products that they are taking or plan to take.

Serious Codeine Side Effects

Some of the most frequently experienced serious side effects of codeine are due to an allergic reaction. If this occurs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Some of the most common serious side effects include:

Swelling of the skin
Swelling of the tongue, lips, face, and mouth
Tightness in the chest
Difficulty breathing

Another potentially serious codeine side effect is respiratory depression. This depression is related to the dosage a patient takes, and it can have potentially fatal consequences. Other serious side effects that may require immediate medical attention include:

Changes in quantity of urine produced
Severe abdominal pain
Psychotic symptoms
Changes in vision
Acute renal failure

These serious side effects are also thought to be more likely and more severe in patients with renal disease or liver disease.

Withdrawal and Dependence

Since codeine is an opiate-based pain killer, chronic use may cause physical dependence in users. After this physical dependence has been created, if a person suddenly stops taking this medication, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. This may include:

Craving the drug
Runny nose

In order to minimize the symptoms of withdrawal, it is suggested that long-term and chronic codeine users gradually reduce their medication usage under the supervision of a physician. Support groups may also exist to help people that have a dependence on codeine.