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Common brand names: Vicodin, Lortab (hydrocodone with acetaminophen, Vicoprofen (hydrocodone with ibuprofen) and others

Description: Hydrocodone is a pain reliever. It is in a class of drugs known as opiates (narcotics). It is closely related to codeine. This drug is most effective for dental pain when it is given with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Dental uses: Hydrocodone is most commonly given to relieve moderate to severe pain after dental surgery. It also is given to relieve toothache. Hydrocodone is about six times more potent than codeine.

Dosages for dental purposes: Typical prescriptions for hydrocodone for pain include:

  • Acetaminophen 325 milligrams plus hydrocodone 5 milligrams (Vicodin or Lortab 5/500), 1 or 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain
  • Acetaminophen 325 milligrams plus hydrocodone 7.5 milligrams (Vicodin ES), 1 tablet every 6 hours as needed for moderate to severe pain
  • Ibuprofen 200 milligrams plus hydrocodone 7.5 milligrams (Vicoprofen), 1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours as needed for moderate to severe pain

Hydrocodone usually is given for less than five days.

Concerns and possible side effects: Tell your dentist and physician about all the medicines you take. This should include over-the-counter vitamins and herbal supplements. Also, let your dentist know if you have had a sensitive or allergic reaction to any medicine. If you are pregnant or nursing, or might be pregnant, talk to your primary care doctor before starting any new medicine. This also includes vitamins and supplements. Also tell your doctor if you plan to become pregnant while taking hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone and other oral narcotics (codeine, oxycodone and propoxyphene) can cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation

At higher doses, hydrocodone can affect breathing. If you are given hydrocodone, do not drink alcohol, operate dangerous machinery or drive. Alcohol plus hydrocodone increases the risks of drowsiness, impaired thinking and unconsciousness. It also increases the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers (from ibuprofen/hydrocodone combinations) and liver damage (from acetaminophen/hydrocodone combinations). Combining alcohol with hydrocodone can be fatal.

Hydrocodone may be habit forming. Therefore, it is important that you take it exactly as directed. Do not take a larger dose or take it more often than your doctor prescribed. Call your doctor if you develop a strong desire to take more hydrocodone than prescribed.

People with codeine allergies should avoid hydrocodone. People with allergies to other drugs that are combined with hydrocodone should not take these combination pills. Allergic reactions can range from a mild rash to life-threatening closure of the airway and a fall in blood pressure.

Tell your doctor about any reaction to a prescribed medicine, no matter how minor it might be.

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