Dihydrocodeine is a prescription-only pain medication. It is prescribed for short-term pain management when over-the-counter medications have been ineffective. Dihydrocodeine is used alone or with paracetamol following surgery or for the treatment of conditions including sciatica, shingles, and Paget’s disease.
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Dihydrocodeine (active ingredient dihydrocodeine tartrate) is part of the opioid family of medicines, which also includes codeine phosphate and morphine. It is a painkiller used for the treatment of pain classed as moderate to severe.
Dihydrocodeine is available in 30 mg tablets, in packs of 28, 100 or 200 tablets. It is also available in combination with paracetamol, as Co-dydramol, containing 10 mg codeine and 500 mg paracetamol. Co-dydramol is available in packs of 100 or 200 tablets.
Dihydrocodeine mimics natural painkilling chemicals produced by the human body. These painkillers, called endorphins, work by attaching to opiate receptors in the brain and nervous system. Dihydrocodeine is able to attach to these receptors to produce its painkilling effect.
Dihydrocodeine tablets start to work approximately 20 minutes after ingestion, although this will vary from person to person. The full effect of the medication may not be felt for around an hour. At least four hours should elapse between doses of dihydrocodeine.
Dihydrocodeine may be prescribed for the relief of pain caused by any illness or injury, so long as none of the exclusions apply. Common uses for dihydrocodeine include nerve related pain such as sciatica or shingles, joint or bone related pain such as arthritis, and pain following surgical procedures.
Dosage varies from person to person. Your prescriber will determine the correct dose for you, based on your simple, confidential consultation. Standard dosage is one 30 mg tablet every four to six hours.
Dosage may need to be reduced for elderly patients. Dihydrocodeine is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
Dihydrocodeine should not be used during the latter stages of pregnancy or while breastfeeding. If taken in the latter stages of pregnancy, dihydrocodeine may cause the baby to experience withdrawal symptoms after birth, and may have complications or breathing difficulties. Dihydrocodeine will be present in the milk of breastfeeding mothers and may cause breathing difficulties for the infant.
All drugs can have side effects, but not everyone will experience them. Most people taking dihydrocodeine will not experience any side effects. It is, however, important to be aware of the potential side effects before taking any medication.
These side effects are usually mild and should resolve on their own. If they become problematic, seek medical attention. Do not drive or attempt to use machinery if affected by drowsiness while taking dihydrocodeine.
If you experience any of these side effects, contact a medical professional for advice on whether or not it is safe to continue with the medication.
It is also important to be aware of the signs of allergic reaction. Breathing issues, swelling of the lips or tongue, hives, or skin rashes are potential indicators of an allergic reaction. If any of these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately. Take the medication box with you so medical professionals know exactly what you have taken.
No. Dihydrocodeine may not be suitable in several circumstances. Extra care may be needed when using it. Make sure you tell your prescriber about any allergies or pre-existing medical conditions. Also inform the prescriber of any medications or supplements you are taking, to avoid potential interaction between drugs. Remember, even natural supplements may interact with medications.
Do not drink alcohol while taking dihydrocodeine tablets.
Caution may also be exercised when prescribing dihydrocodeine to elderly patients, as the dose may need to be reduced.
Any medication that falls into the opioid family such as codeine can be habit forming, so yes Dihydrocodeine can be addictive, so should only be used for a short time. Prolonged use may first lead to the body becoming accustomed to the medication, which will make it less effective. This is called tolerance and often leads people to increase the dose of the drug. Do not do this. Continued use may also lead to dependence on the drug. If this happens, then withdrawal symptoms will be experienced when the medication is stopped. Always follow the instructions of your prescriber regarding the duration of your treatment.
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