Codeine is a pain relieving drug that is used by patients to get rid of bodily pains and discomfort. It is used to treat moderate to severe pains among adults. The medicine belongs to the class of drugs known as opiate narcotic analgesics. It is found to be extremely helpful for people who may require medication to ease the pain caused by diseases such as osteoarthritis, joint pains, etc.
The medicine is also usually prescribed to patients before or after medical procedures such as surgery, dental problems, injuries, childbirth or any other painful procedure. This medicine may also be used as a cough suppressant. However, codeine is a habit-forming drug and may cause addiction and therefore, needs to be taken in a limited dose.
Common side effects of codeine
Although severe side effects of this medicine are rare, there have been instances of such effects on a few users. The major side effects of codeine are mentioned below and will require immediate medical attention.
Major side effects
- Slow heart rate or weak pulse
- Irregular and shallow breathing
- Seizures and convulsions
- Hallucinations accompanied by unusual behavior
- Confusion and agitation
- Difficulty urinating such as pain or a burning sensation
- Feeling lightheaded to the point that you feel as if you might pass out
- Extremely low blood pressure
- Feeling extreme happiness or sadness
There are minor side effects of this drug too, but these are temporary and tend to go away once treatment is completed. It is possible you might not even experience any side effects at all.
Minor side effects
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Upset stomach such as diarrhea and constipation
- Abdominal pain
- Mild skin rash or itching on the skin
These side effects are mild and are fairly common among users. They are not dangerous and do not require you to consult a doctor. However, if you notice these signs aggravating, see a doctor at once.
How does codeine work?
Codeine works like morphine which means it binds to the opioid receptors of the brain that are vital for transmitting the sensation of pain. With codeine in place of opioids, the user experiences less pain and has increased pain tolerance.
How to use codeine?
Codeine is a prescription medication and should only be taken with a doctor’s recommendation. The tablet must be taken orally with a full glass of water. It is recommended to take this medicine without food, but if you suffer from an upset stomach, you may take it with food or a glass of milk. You may also choose to follow your doctor’s directions. The dosage may vary according to the patient’s medical health, weight, and age but the usual dosage is 15 to 60 mg every 4 to 6 hours for pain and 10 to 20 mg every 4 to 6 hours if using for cough. Make sure never to exceed more than 120 mg per day. It is important to swallow the tablet whole and not chew, break or bite it as this may increase the side effects. Do not alter dosages or overdose as it may lead to serious, potentially fatal, side effects. Take codeine regularly as per your doctor’s recommendation for the best of results.
- Do not use Codeine if you are allergic to it or any other narcotic medicine
- Avoid using this drug if you have asthma or a bowel obstruction known as paralytic ileus
- This is an addictive drug, do not use more than the dosage prescribed.
- Do not share this drug with someone who has a history of abuse and addiction
- May cause withdrawal symptoms
- Pregnant women should not use Codeine without a doctor’s recommendation. May cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby of the mother who used codeine during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding mothers should not use this medicine as it may pass through breast milk and harm the growing baby.
- May make you dizzy; do not engage in activities that require complete attention such as driving and operating machinery until fully alert.
- Get up from a lying or a sitting position slowly to avoid falling over due to being dizzy.
- Avoid alcohol consumption when taking this medicine as it may increase the risk of side effects.