Vicodin Risks & Side Effects

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Question

What are the risks of taking Vicodin?

Answer

There are risks of taking Vicodin (hydrocodone/APAP), including an addiction to the narcotic part of the medication, hydrocodone. This can be a mental or a physical addiction. There is always the risk that you might have a life-threatening allergic reaction to Vicodin. This medicine can make you drowsy, so do not operate machinery, drive a motor vehicle, or do anything that would cause you injury. Constipation can cause serious problems, so it is very important to eat a diet high in fiber, to drink plenty of water and to talk to your doctor about taking a stool softener or laxative while on this medication. If you are pregnant while taking this medication, you could cause serious harm to the developing fetus. A newborn might suffer from withdrawal symptoms after delivery. Because you will be taking acetaminophen along with the narcotic hydrocodone, you will be putting your liver at risk if you take more than the prescribed amount.

What are the side effects of Vicodin?

Common side effects of Vicodin (hydrocortisone/APAP) include: dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness or sedation and nausea and vomiting, belching; mood swings; loss of appetite; constipation; fear or nervousness; and indigestion. If these persist, call your doctor. Other less common and more serious side effects that need medical attention include: hearing loss; difficulty hearing; back pains; leg pains; stomach pains; black, tarry stools; bleeding gums; blue lips or skin; fever or chills; choking, cough or hoarseness; dark urine, decreased urine output or frequency, difficult or painful urination; dizziness; rapid heartbeat; edema; tiredness or weakness; headaches; light-colored stools; nosebleeds; pale or bluish fingernails; pinpoint red spots on the skin; unable to speak; unusual bleeding or bruising; upper right abdominal or pain; wheezing; and yellow eyes and skin (jaundice). Symptoms of allergic reactions may include: hives, itching; difficulty breathing; puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips or tongue; tightness in the chest; and difficulty swallowing. An allergic reaction is a medical emergency.

Can I become addicted to Vicodin?

Taking Vicodin (hydrocortisone/APAP) in excess can lead to mental and physical addiction. Also, the longer you take the drug the more likely the previously prescribed dose will no longer be as effective as it was at first. Before starting the medication tell your doctor if you have a history of liver or kidney problems, an underactive thyroid gland, Addison's disease, an enlarged prostate or narrowing of the urethra. Your doctor should also know if you have a history of alcoholism, substance abuse, seizures, head or brain injuries or psychiatric problems. Elderly people, people with lung conditions and those with poor health in general, should use Vicodin with caution, since it can slow breathing. It can also cause problems diagnosing and treating certain abdominal disorders.

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