Norco is the brand name of the combined prescription drug acetaminophen / hydrocodone. It is used to treat moderate and severe pain.
Vicodin, Lorcet and Lortab are other brands for this combination, which are also available as generic.
Hydrocodone is a drug, and acetaminophen is a mild analgesic. Combined, they belong to a class of drugs called opioid analgesics that work by blocking certain receptors of nerve cells in the brain.
Manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals, now Actavis Inc., Norco was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997.
The doctors prescribed acetaminophen / hydrocodonotes for cough and insomnia.
As with all prescription drugs containing acetaminophen, the FDA requires that the labels contain a warning indicating the possibility of serious liver damage and another warning of the potential for allergic reactions.
Before taking Norco, it is important to tell your doctor about any allergies that you have, not only to hydrocodone and acetaminophen, but to other drugs, such as morphine or codeine, and whether you have liver or kidney disease.
Since hydrocodone can slow or stop your breathing, your doctor should also be aware of any brain disorders or head injuries, asthma, chronic destructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea or seizures. Like any narcotic painkiller, hydrocodone can be addictive.
You should be frank with your doctor if you have had a personal history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Pregnancy and Norco
It is not known whether Norco can harm a developing fetus, because adequate studies have not been conducted in pregnant women.
However, it can cause shallow breathing and symptoms of physical dependence in the newborn and therefore is not recommended during pregnancy.
Because acetaminophen and hydrocodone fall into the mother’s milk, it is better not to breast-feed while taking Norco.
Norco and abuse
Hydrocodone, Norco’s drug component, makes it ripe for abuse, especially since it is easily available as a generic and is not an expensive medicine. The drug can give users a sense of euphoria, which lasts for several hours.
Abuse of any narcotic drug, including Norco, can lead to drug addiction, overdose or death, especially in a child or another person using the drug without a prescription.
Termination of use of Norco
A sudden discontinuation of taking the drug after developing dependence on it is likely to lead to withdrawal symptoms. They usually include sweating, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety and agitation.
Side effects of Norco
- Nausea, vomiting
Serious side effects:
- Difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat (these are signs of an allergic reaction)
- Decreased breathing, slow heartbeat
- Confusion, unusual thoughts
- Feeling of anxiety, fear or depression; mood swings
- Difficulty of urination
- Abdominal pain, itching, slight appetite, dark urine, clayey stool, jaundice
- Redness of the skin or rash, causing bloating and flaking (a rare but potentially fatal reaction to acetaminophen in Norco)
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these serious side effects.
Always tell your doctor about all other drugs that you take.
Norco and alcohol
Avoid alcohol when taking Norco, since adding alcohol to acetaminophen may increase the risk of liver damage.
Alcohol can also increase dizziness and drowsiness that may accompany the drug.
You should not drive while taking acetaminophen / hydrocodone.
Norco and narcotic interactions
Taking Norco with other narcotic painkillers or other drugs that cause drowsiness and slow breathing may be life threatening.
Do not take antihistamines, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-Western drugs or antidepressants, taking Norco without first checking the doctor – you may need to reduce the dose of one or both drugs.
Norco can have dangerous interactions with the following drugs:
- Inhibitors of monoamine oxidase (MAOI), including isocarbozazide, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegin, tranylcypromine or tricyclic antidepressants
- Pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol
- Ketoconazole, naltrexone
Remember that acetaminophen is a common ingredient in other non-prescription analgesics. It is important to read the labels to make sure that you do not take another drug that contains acetaminophen (often written as APAP).
Norco and Food
Norco can be taken with or without food, but taking it with food can cause nausea.