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Codeine: Uses, Side Effects And Precautions

Codeine is used to treat pain and suppress cough and occurs in small concentrations in opium. The drug is available as a prescription drug in most areas. If sold over the counter, the maximum allowable dose in products is 3.3mg/ml. The medicine is administered by mouth and can be combined with several other medicines like:

  • Acetaminophen for pain control. This comes can be used as tablets or in liquid form
  • Guaifenesin which is used for cough suppression and is available as a liquid.
  • Promethazine also used for suppression of cough and comes in form of liquid.

These products can be found online and you can check out codeine pictures and reviews before you choose.

What are the uses of codeine?

Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever and works in the brain to block pain signals sent to various parts of the body. It can also be used for treating non-productive cough due to its effect on dulling the cough reflex.

This drug is ideal because it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract fast and also there is no loss of the drug when it passes through the liver. This makes it potent for treatment of pain. Other routes for administering the drug include subcutaneously, intramuscularly, orally and as an enema. It is not recommended for intravenous administration because it can lead to collection of fluid in the lungs. (Pulmonary edema).

Precautions when using codeine

Do not use medicines with codeine as cough suppressants for children under 2 years of age. For children, the dosage for pain relief is calculated according to the body weight.

When you take this medication for a long time, you may form a habit, and this should not make you stop taking the medicine because you will experience withdrawal symptoms like nausea, tremors, sweating, hallucinations, sleep problems and anxiety. You should not stop this medication immediately minus the doctor's instructions. The doctor needs to reduce the dosage gradually so that you reduce the effects associated with immediate withdrawal.

You should take the medication as directed by the doctor. Keep your dosage schedule and don't take an overdose even if you have missed a dose. The doctor will recommend a dose according to different factors including your body weight or other medical conditions. You should stick to what the doctor has recommended.

Storage of the medicine is very important. You need to keep it at room temperature shielded from light and moisture. The medicine should also be kept safely where children cannot access it.

What are the side effects of codeine?

When used for a long time side effects can be experienced either early or several days after treatment starts. Some of the common side effects are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in your moods
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Reduced breathing rates
  • Constipation
  • Itching which can lead to development of hives
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with urinating

When you experience any of these side effects while taking this medicine, you need to contact your doctor, the nurse or pharmacist immediately and let them know what is happening.

Additional instructions when using codeine

The side effects listed above usually get better after you take codeine for a few more days. If the effect persists or gets worse, it means you need to use a lower dose and should contact your doctor to prescribe a lower dosage for you.

When on codeine, don't drive or operate heavy machinery due to the effect of dizziness or drowsiness the drug may cause.

In case you are using this medicine regularly, you need to take a lot of fluids and fibers to prevent constipation. In case you have not had a bowel movement for long, you will need to take a laxative or stool softener to relieve the condition.

In case your doctor decides to decrease your dosage, watch out for any side effects which may indicate that the dosage is being reduced at a very fast rate and you need to inform the doctor straight away.

If you are taking codeine combined with another drug, you need to avoid taking other medicine containing acetaminophen, promethazine or guaifenesin. This may lead to an overdose of the particular medicine.

Some medicines, when taken concurrently with codeine can increase drowsiness. Such medicine include:

  • Alcohol
  • Promethazine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Diazepam/lorazepam
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medicine such as phenytoin, carbamazepine and Phenobarbital.

If you are using any of the above, you need to inform the doctor in advance to advice you.

You can get more information on uses, side effects and dosages of codeine online. You will also see codeine pictures to be able to know you are getting the genuine medicine.

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