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Codeine (cough suppressant, opioid analgesic)

Codeine is an opioid analgesic drug. Opioids are derivatives of opium and are considered narcotics, which can be addictive. Because of this, drugs that contain codeine are strictly regulated and can only be purchased with a prescription from a specially licensed physician.

Uses

What is codeine used for?

Codeine is a cough suppressant, pain reliever, and antidiarrheal drug.

How should I take codeine?

Read the directions on the packaging for complete information. Check the label and expiration date.

For oral dosage forms, swallow it whole without chewing, crushing, or dissolving it in liquid. Take it with meals to prevent gastric irritation.

How do I store codeine?

This product is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store it in the bathroom or the freezer.

There may be different brands of this drug that may have different storage needs. So, it is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Additionally, it is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using codeine?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if you are/have:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Taking any other medicines. This includes any prescription, OTC, and herbal remedies.
  • An allergy to any of the ingredients of this product.
  • Any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Do not take this preparation or other drugs that contain codeine while pregnant or breastfeeding. There is evidence that codeine and other opioids can cause negative effects on the baby including poor growth, preterm birth, still birth, birth defects, and neonatal abstinence syndrome. There is also an increased risk of maternal death.

If you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking this drug, talk to your doctor right away for re-evaluation of your treatment plan.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from codeine?

Like all drugs, this product may have side effects. If they occur, side effects are generally mild and resolve once treatment is finished or the dose is lowered. Some reported side effects include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Miosis (“pinpoint” pupils)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Dependency

However, not everyone experiences these side effects. In addition, some people may experience other side effects. So, if you have any concerns about a side effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with codeine?

This medication may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects.

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist.

Drugs with known interactions:

  • CNS depressants (including alcohol)
  • MAOIs
  • Quinidine
  • Cimetidine
  • Mexiletine
  • Cisapride
  • Metoclopramide
  • Domperidone
  • Antivirals

If you experience an adverse drug interaction, inform your doctor immediately to reevaluate your treatment plan. Approaches include dose adjustment, drug substitution, or ending therapy.

Does food or alcohol interact with codeine?

This drug may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with codeine?

This drug may interact with underlying conditions. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. Therefore, it is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication.

What is the dose for an adult?

Acute diarrhea

Take 30 mg 3 to 4 times a day.

Mild to moderate pain

Take 15 to 60 mg every 4 hours, as needed. The maximum dose is 360 mg per day.

For intramuscular injections, administer 30 to 60 mg every 4 hours, as needed.

Cough suppressant

What is the dose for a child?

Mild to moderate pain

Children 12 years and older should receive 0.5 to 1 mg per kilogram of body weight every 6 hours, as needed. The maximum dose is 240 mg per day.

How is codeine available?

Codeine is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Capsule 30 mg (as codeine phosphate hemihydrate)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Codeine https://www.mims.com/philippines/drug/info/codeine?mtype=generic Accessed July 23, 2021

Codeine phosphate tablets product leaflet https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/consumers/cmi/c/codeinephosphate.pdf Accessed July 23, 2021

Codeine phosphate hemihydrate https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Codeine-phosphate-hemihydrate Accessed July 23, 2021

Codeine Side Effects: Is Addiction Possible? https://americanaddictioncenters.org/codeine-addiction Accessed July 23, 2021

Codeine Phosphate. Lexi-Drugs. Lexicomp. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Riverwoods, IL. Accessed July 23, 2021. http://online.lexi.com

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated just now
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