Hydrocodone (Vicodin) Side Effects
Description: Hydrocodone (which is also sold under the brand names Vicodin, Norco, Hysingla and Lorcet) is a strong prescription opioid (narcotic) medication. It is used to manage severe pain and discomfort when other treatments such as non-opioid pain medicines do not work. As with all narcotics, it carries many side effects and can be addictive.
Addiction to Vicodin
According to the Vicodin drug label as reported by the NIH, use of hydrocodone (even when taken as recommended and at regular doses) can result in addiction. Misuse of narcotic medication can cause overdose or death, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Hence, it is important that hydrocodone is never used in larger amounts, or for longer duration than prescribed. It should also never be shared with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction.
Serious Side Effects
According to information reported by the NIH/USNLM Information on Hydrocodone Combination Products, as with all opioid medication, there are serious safety considerations with hydrocodone. First and foremost, it can slow or stop your breathing (respiratory depression, which can result in death. This reaction is more likely when starting hydrocodone or when the dose is increased, and it can occur even at recommended doses. Other serious reactions include: agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, fast heartbeat; allergic reactions; Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).
Common Side Effects
Common reactions according to the Vicodin label include:
Less Common Side Effects
According to the FDA’s Drug Safety Communications (August 2013), rare but serious reactions include:
Understand Your Risk for Side Effects with the Rxight® Genetic Test
The Rxight® DNA test assesses individual patients’ genetically determined metabolism of over 200 common prescription and OTC medications to determine the likelihood of experiencing side effects. By analyzing your unique metabolism of hydrocodone, you and your prescriber can determine the dose that is right for you based on your DNA, or find a safer medication as needed.
How Does Pharmacogenetic Testing Work?
Certain patients do not develop adverse effects when taking hydrocodone, while others suffer negative reactions. This inter-variability between users might be explained by differences in the genetics between individuals. Such individual gene variants (which are called “polymorphisms”) for genes that encode for a family of liver enzymes that metabolize hydrocodone may increase or decrease a patient’s chances of developing side effects, depending on the patient’s genetically determined ability to break down and process the drug. Knowing a patient’s results enables prescribers to efficiently find a safe and effective dose – preferably before treatment begins – so that serious side effects can be avoided. Read more about genetic testing for opioids, the opioid epidemic in the U.S., and how your genetics factor into your risk for addiction.
Contributors to this Article: Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
Read more about Rxight® pharmacogenetics