Codeine & Dihydrocodeine

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Codeine & Dihydrocodeine Fact Card

Opiate pain killers for treating some types of moderate to severe pain

Brand Names Codeine Dihydrocodeine, DF118 Forte; DHC Continus
Used For Used for pain relief when other pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen haven't worked
Doseage The tablets are usually taken 4 times a day but the dosage depends on the severity of the pain and other factors such as patient age and other health problems
Side Effects Common side effects: Nausea, constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, sweating, abdominal pain Serious side effects: If an overdose is taken or it is taken with other similar medications or drugs it can cause reduced rate of breathing (respiratory depression) which can be life threatening
Warnings Don't take for longer than directed by your doctor Taking codeine regularly for a long time can lead to addiction Taking a painkiller for headaches too often or for too long can make them worse You must not drive or operate machinery while taking this medication
Pregnancy Only use under very close supervision as these medications can cause respiratory depression and withdrawal symptoms in baby if used during delivery.

Codeine and Dihydrocodeine are a type of painkillers called 'opiate' because they are related to opium (and morphine).

This makes them excellent choices for pain relief; but also need to be used with caution. It is used to treat moderate types of pain. They are usually best used after trial of simple OTC pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

What is Codeine & Dihydrocodeine used to treat?

Codeine can be used for short term relief of  mild to moderate pain that has not responded well to paracetamol or ibuprofen.  It is important that it is used to treat acute onset pain, and not long term pain. Codeine can be found in certain combination pain relief tablets that can be bought over the counter so it is important to check the packaging.

Dihydrocodeine tends to be used for moderate to severe types of pain.

How does Codeine & Dihydrocodeine work?

Codeine and Dihydrocodeine work by binding to the opioid centres in your central nervous system i.e. the brain and spinal cord; and therefore reduce the sensation and your reaction to pain.

codeine & dihydrocodeine alcohol

How do I take Codeine & Dihydrocodeine?

The usual dose for Codeine is 15-60mg at a maximum of  4 times per day. 

It is important to start at the lowest dose needed for your condition; this is because of the potential unwanted side effects of these medications.

It is important to note that tolerance soon develops with these medications which is why it is best to save them for short term pain relief.

Side effects of Codeine & Dihydrocodeine

The most common side effects of these two drugs are nausea, sickness, constipation, feeling dizzy and dry mouth.

As it can cause drowsiness it its important not to drive when taking these medications.

If you take this for more than a few weeks, particularly at higher doses, then there is a risk of dependence (withdrawal symptoms on stopping) and tolerance (ever increasing doses needed to control the pain.)

codeine & dihydrocodeine side effects

Things to avoid

It is important to avoid alcohol when taking opioid pain medications as they will increase the side effects of alcohol in your system. Do not increase the dose without checking with your doctor first. 

Codeine & Dihydrocodeine and alcohol

Do not take with alcohol to avoid excessive sleepiness/sedation

codeine & dihydrocodeine when pregnant

Can I take Codeine & Dihydrocodeine when pregnant?

Can cause respiratory depression and withdrawal symptoms in baby.

Codeine & Dihydrocodeine and breastfeeding

Best to avoid, but may be used if the potential benefits outweigh the risks

codeine & dihydrocodeine when breastfeeding

Our doctors are available now and can issue same day prescriptions for all standard medications. To see a GP regarding a prescription for codeine & dihydrocodeine or for any other reason book an appointment now and start feeling better right away.

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Please note. This site is for information only. If you are taking any medications please follow the instructions given by your doctor. Should you have an adverse reaction to any medication please seek medical advice.

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