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Prescription vs.OTC: Prescription by Doctor required
Last Updated: August 23, 2021

Codeine is used as an opioid to relieve pain ranging from mild to moderately severe. It is similar to morphine and hydrocodone, acting as a cough suppressant. It binds the receptors in the brain that are responsible for transmitting the feeling of pain throughout the body.

Even though the pain is still apparent to the patient, it decreases discomfort, and increases the tolerance to pain. It also acts as a sedative and slows down the breathing. This drug is also used as an antitussive in lower doses; dextromethorphan has equivalent antitussive activity but has much lower toxicity in accidental overdose.

If you are prone to frequent asthma attacks with hyperventilation and breathing problems, or a blockage in your intestines, the medicine should not be prescribed. If you are pregnant and are on this medicine, your baby may become dependent on it. It is not to be prescribed for children below the age of 12 years.

It is important that you take Codeine exactly as your doctor has prescribed it for it can slow your breathing down to dangerous levels. Even at regular doses, it is habit forming, and must not be used without a prescription. If you have noisy breathing, seizures, impotence, slow heart rate, light headedness, find a doctor immediately.

If self-administered, use exactly as directed (do not increase dose or frequency); may cause physical and/or psychological dependence. While using this medication, do not use alcohol and other prescription or OTC medications (especially sedatives, tranquilizers, antihistamines, or pain medications) without consulting prescriber.

Maintain adequate hydration (2-3 L/day of fluids unless instructed to restrict fluid intake). May cause dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, agitation, impaired coordination, or blurred vision (use caution when driving, climbing stairs, or changing position - rising from sitting or lying to standing, or when engaging in tasks requiring alertness until response to drug is known); nausea or vomiting, or loss of appetite (frequent mouth care, small frequent meals, sucking lozenges, or chewing gum may help); constipation (increased exercise, fluids, or dietary fruit and fiber may help - if constipation remains an unresolved problem, consult prescriber about use of stool softeners).

Report confusion, insomnia, excessive nervousness, excessive sedation or drowsiness, or shakiness; acute GI upset; difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; facial flushing, rapid heartbeat or palpitations; urinary difficulty; unusual muscle weakness; or vision changes.

Symptoms of overdose include CNS and respiratory depression, gastrointestinal cramping, constipation. Naloxone 2 mg I.V. (0.01 mg/kg for children) with repeat administration as necessary up to a total of 10 mg.

Information given here is based on the salt content of the medicine. Uses and effects of the medicine may vary from person to person. It is advisable to consult a Pulmonologist before using this medicine.

The medicine is useful against the following conditions:

  • Hypersensitivity

Here are some of the possible side effects of this drug:

  • Is It safe with alcohol?

    Codeine may cause excessive drowsiness and calmness with alcohol.
  • Are there any pregnancy warnings?

    Codeine may be unsafe to use during pregnancy.
    Animal studies have shown adverse effects on the foetus, however, there are limited human studies. The benefits from use in pregnant women may be acceptable despite the risk. Please consult your doctor.
  • Are there any breast-feeding warnings?

    Codeine is probably unsafe to use during breastfeeding. Please consult your doctor.
  • Is it safe to drive while on this medicine?

    Caution is advised when driving or operating machinery.
  • Does this affect kidney function?

    Caution should be used in patients with renal impairment. Adjustment of dose is needed.
    • Clcr 10-50 mL/minute: Administer 75% of dose
    • Clcr <10 mL/minute: Administer 50% of dose
  • Does this affect liver function?

    Dosing adjustment in hepatic impairment is probably necessary in hepatic insufficiency. Please consult doctor before consuming the drug.
  • How long is the duration of effect?

    This drug will remain active for about 4 - 6 hours.
  • What is the onset of action?

    The effect of this drug will be initiated within 10 - 30 minutes after its administration.
  • Is it habit forming?

    Tolerance or drug dependence may result from extended use.
  • Are there any missed dose instructions?

    If you miss a dose of Codeine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not double the dose.
  • Are there any overdose instructions?

    Seek emergency medical treatment or contact the doctor in case of an overdose.

    Symptoms of overdose include CNS and respiratory depression, gastrointestinal cramping, constipation.

    Naloxone 2 mg I.V. (0.01 mg/kg for children) with repeat administration as necessary up to a total of 10 mg.

Below is the list of medicines, which contains Codeine as ingredient

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This medication behaves as an opioid analgesic with antitussive properties that works by binding to opioid receptors in the CNS. Specifically, it binds to mu-type, kappa-type and delta-type opioid receptors and inhibits the secretion of neurotransmitters responsible for the transmission of pain stimuli such as GABA, substance P, acetylcholine.

Whenever you take more than one medicine, or mix it with certain foods or beverages, you"re at risk of a drug interaction.

  • Interaction with Alcohol

    Additive CNS effects, avoid or limit alcohol; watch for sedation.
  • Interaction with Medicine

    • Increased toxicity: CNS depressants, phenothiazines, TCAs, other narcotic analgesics, guanabenz, MAO inhibitors, neuromuscular blockers.
    • Use with caution in patients with hypersensitivity reactions to other phenanthrene derivative opioid agonists (morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, levorphanol, oxycodone, oxymorphone).
  • Interaction with Food

    Glucose may cause hyperglycemia; monitor blood glucose concentrations.
  • Interaction with Disease

    This drug must be avoided if the patient is suffering from respiratory diseases including asthma, emphysema, COPD, or severe liver or renal insufficiency; some preparations contain sulfites which may cause allergic reactions; tolerance or drug dependence may result from extended use.

Ques: Is it safe to take alcohol with Codeine?

Ans: Taking alcohol during the treatment is not recommended as it could lead the risk of drowsiness, difficulty in urination, abdominal disorders and constipation. In case of, alcohol consumption with Codeine. It is advised, not to do any activity that involves mental alertness like driving or operating any machine.

Ques: Is it safe to take Codeine during pregnancy?

Ans: Taking Codeine during the pregnancy is not recommended as it could lead the risk of life-threatening conditions. In case of its consumption, Consult with your doctor.

Ques: What are the Side Effects of Codeine?

Ans: This is a list of possible side-effects which may occur due to the constituting ingredients of Codeine. This is not a comprehensive list. These side-effects have been observed and not necessarily occur. Some of these side-effects may be serious. These include headache, tiredness, skin rashes and vomiting. Apart from these, using this medicine may further lead to difficulty in urination, stomach disorders, confusions and increased heartbeat. If any of these symptoms occur often or on daily basis, a doctor should be urgently consulted.

Ques: What are the instructions for storage and disposal Codeine?

Ans: Codeine should be stored at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. Keep it away from the reach of children and pets. A doctor should be consulted regarding the dosage of Codeine. The patient should consult a doctor for its further uses and side effects and should inform the doctor about any ongoing medications and treatment before using to avoid undesirable effects.

Ques: Where is Codeine approved?

Ans: Codeine is approved in India, Japan, Micronesia, and the USA.

Ques: Should Codeine be taken with a meal or without a meal?

Ans: The effectiveness of Codeine does not depend on a meal, it can be taken in either way.

Ques: What is the onset of action of Codeine?

Ans: Codeine when administered orally takes about 30 to 60 minutes to show effect while it takes about 10 to 30 minutes to work after intravenous administration.

Ques: What is the duration of effect of Codeine?

Ans: The effect of Codeine lasts for approximately 4 to 6 hours.

Ques: Is it safe to suddenly stop taking Codeine?

Ans: It is advised to not stop taking Codeine suddenly after taking it for several weeks, doing so may cause withdrawal effects such as dilated pupils, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, etc.

Ques: How is Codeine administered?

Ans: Codeine can be administered both orally and intravenously.
Disclaimer: The information produced here is best of our knowledge and experience and we have tried our best to make it as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we would like to request that it should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Lybrate is a medium to provide our audience with the common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. Even if there is no mention of a warning for any drug or combination, it never means that we are claiming that the drug or combination is safe for consumption without any proper consultation with an expert.

Lybrate does not take responsibility for any aspect of medicines or treatments. If you have any doubts about your medication, we strongly recommend you to see a doctor immediately.

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Table of Content
About Codeine
What are the uses of Codeine
What are the contraindications of Codeine ?
What are the side effects of Codeine ?
Key highlights of Codeine
What are the dosage instructions?
Medicines containing Codeine
How does this medication work?
What are the interactions of Codeine ?
FAQs about Codeine