Hydrocodone: Formulations, Brand Names, Side Effects and Uses

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What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid, or narcotic, medication commonly prescribed to treat pain. It doesn’t eliminate the pain, per se, but changes the responses of the brain and nervous system to the pain itself.

Drug Formulation

Hydrocodone is available in a variety of forms, including:

  • Capsule

  • Elixir

  • Liquid

  • Solution

  • Syrup

  • Tablet

Hydrocodone Brand Name

It is available in a number of brand names, including Norco and Vicodin HP, Vicodin ES, Lortab,Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Zydone, Hycet, Maxidone, Stagesic, Verdrocet, Xodol, Zamicet, and Zolvit. Hydrocodone can be habit-forming – especially among patients prescribed the drug for prolonged use.

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

There is a range of side effects related to hydrocodone, some of them can be quite uncomfortable or even severe. The following are among the most common side effects of hydrocodone:

  • Constipation

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Drowsiness

It may also affect your ability to drive or perform certain tasks at work. Discuss your job requirements with your dentist or doctor prior to taking hydrocodone to determine whether it might interfere with your ability to return to work.

How Long Does it Take for Hydrocodone to Work?

Hydrocodone is taken orally in either a pill or liquid form. It must pass through the digestive system before you will feel the effects of the medication, though most people experience some relief from pain within an hour or taking the drug.

It takes approximately 1.3 hours for you to experience peak concentrations of hydrocodone in your blood system and the drug has a half-life (the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be expelled from your body) of approximately 3.8 hours. The effects can last between four and six hours.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Last in Your System?

It stands to reason that with a half-life of 3.8 hours the drug will remain in your system approximate 7.6 hours. That is a rough estimation and various contributing factors may play a role in how quickly the drug exits your individual system. This is just an average.

There are many factors that dictate how long the drug may remain in your system, such as:

  • Body weight

  • Body fat

  • How quickly you metabolize food, drinks, and medications

  • Alcohol consumption in combination with hydrocodone intake

  • The dosage you are taking

  • How long you’ve been taking hydrocodone

  • Tolerance for hydrocodone or other opioids

  • Medical conditions

  • Other medications you may be taking

  • Liver function

There is no one-size-fits-all timetable for the medication exiting your system because there are simply too many influencing factors. The concentration of hydrocodone can be measured in numerous ways, including:

  • Blood

  • Plasma

  • Urine

  • Saliva

  • Hair

These measurements are used to confirm if someone is suffering from hydrocodone poisoning and may be used in death investigations to aid in confirming the presence of hydrocodone in the system.

Most people will find that hydrocodone completely exits the blood in one full day of taking the drug. Despite this, it may take longer for the drug to completely exit your system. In fact, it can remain in saliva between 12 and 36 hours after the last dose, in urine for up to four days after the last dose, and in hair for up to 90 days.

This means you will continue to have hydrocodone in your body long after you’ve stopped feeling the effects of the medication. This is why it is so important to stick to the schedule for taking your medication, follow the prescription exactly, and avoid taking more medication than prescribed or using hydrocodone with greater frequency than it is prescribed.

Dependence and tolerances are other problems with hydrocodone can occur even when taking the medication exactly as prescribed. Please discuss your concerns with your physician or seek help right away if you feel you may be developing a tolerance, dependence, or addiction to hydrocodone.


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