Codeine is an opiate anesthetic, sometimes called a drug.
Its active ingredient is found in many different medications that treat pain, cough and diarrhea.
The brand names of preparations containing codeine include Tylenol No. 3, Tylenol # 4, SomaCompound, Fiorinal, Fioricet and Capital.
Codeine is available in the form of tablets and syrup.
The drug works by blocking reactions to pain, suppressing the cough reflex and causing drowsiness.
Like all drugs associated with or derived from opium, codeine is a controlled substance.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies codeine as a controlled substance on Schedule II and III.
However, low doses of codeine are still sold over-the-counter (OTC) in some states.
Fenergan with codeine, manufactured by AniPharmaceuticals, may have been the first product containing codeine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1952.
Codeine and your genes
Some people may find that codeine does not relieve pain.
This is because the body must first convert codeine to morphine, and some people do not need a gene responsible for this transformation.
In addition, not all liver treat codeine at the same rate.
You should not take codeine if you are allergic to it (or any other ingredients in the drug) or you have trouble breathing.
If you experience any of the following symptoms after taking codeine, consult your doctor, because you may be allergic to the drug:
Before taking codeine, tell your doctor if you have:
- Problems with the liver or kidneys
- Problems with the stomach or intestines, including constipation and inflammatory bowel disease
- Addison’s disease
- Enlarged prostate
- There was a recent head injury
The FDA requires codeine products to contain warnings because some children who have rapidly absorbed codeine have had trouble breathing and they died when they were given codeine after surgery to remove their tonsils and adenoids.
In numerous online and anecdotal reports, it was said that some people abuse codeine to get the effect of euphoria.
In addition to addiction, the abuse of codeine can lead to:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Lack of coordination
Take codeine only as directed by a doctor, keep it away from children, adolescents and anyone for whom the drug has not been prescribed.
People who have long taken codeine and then stopped, can experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Severe sweating
Pregnancy and codeine
Some studies in animals show that codeine can harm a developing fetus.
Codeine enters breast milk and can make breathing difficult for the baby, so it should not be taken by mothers who breastfeed.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, you can become pregnant or breast-feed before taking codeine or any medicine containing codeine.
- Dry mouth
- Severe heartbeat
- Changes in vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness and drowsiness
Serious Codeine Side Effects
- Very slow heartbeat and weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Superficial breathing
- Mood changes or mental disorders, such as hallucinations, irritability and confusion
- Dependence on the drug
- Intestinal blockage
- Heart failure
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications that you are taking.
Avoid taking codeine if you are also taking the following drugs:
- Amiodarone (Cordarone)
- Imatinib (Gleevets)
- Antihistamines such as doxylamine (Unisom), diphenhydramine (benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (chloro-trimethon)
- Phosphate potassium / sodium phosphate (K-Phos) and potassium citrate (Urocit-K)
- HIV / AIDS drugs, such as ritonavir (Norvir) and tipranavir (Aptivus)
- Propafenone (Rhythmol)
Codeine and alcohol
Both alcohol and codeine dull the senses, cause confusion and slow breathing, and taking these two together can worsen these effects.
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking codeine.
Codeine is available as a tablet and syrup, and it is best to take it with food.
Your doctor will determine how much codeine you should take based on your symptoms, condition and other factors.
If your doctor does not tell you otherwise, try to take codeine only when you need it.
When coughing, the usual dose of codeine is 15 to 30 milligrams (mg) every four to six hours as needed. You should not take more than 120 mg of codeine per day.
From pain, your doctor will prescribe 15 to 60 mg of codeine every four hours as needed.
Try not to take more than 360 mg of codeine per day.
An overdose of Codeine
Symptoms of codeine overdose may include:
- Slow or rare breathing
- Blue nails or lips
- Dizziness, confusion, or fatigue
- Cool, clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
If you think that you or someone else has taken too much codeine, contact your local poison control center or emergency room.
The missed dose of codeine
If your doctor did not tell you otherwise, you usually take codeine only when you need it, so no dose should be a problem.
However, if your doctor told you to take codeine regularly, and you realized that you missed the dose of codeine, try to accept it as soon as possible.
If it’s time for the next dose, skip it and take the next one, as usual.
Do not take two doses of the medication at the same time.