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Back to Medicines A to Z. Codeine is a painkiller. It's used to treat pain, for example after an operation or an injury. It's also used for long-standing pain when everyday painkillers, such as paracetamolibuprofen and aspirin have not worked. Codeine is available on prescription. It comes as tablets, a liquid to swallow and as an injection. Prescription cough medicine codeine injections are usually only given in hospital. You can buy lower-strength codeine from a pharmacy. It comes mixed with paracetamol co-codamol or with aspirin co-codaprin or with ibuprofen Nurofen Plus. Only give codeine to children aged 12 to 18 years if everyday painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen haven't worked.
Codeine is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting the medicine if you have:. Do not give codeine to children who are under 18 years old and have had their tonsils or adenoids removed because of a sleep problem called obstructive sleep apnoea. Codeine is not generally recommended in pregnancy. Tell your doctor before taking codeine if you're trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to use this medicine. This is particularly important because codeine can be addictive. Take codeine with, or just after, a meal or snack so it's less likely to make you feel sick.
You can take codeine at any time of day but try to take it at the same times every day and space your doses evenly. If you're taking codeine as a liquid, it will come with a plastic spoon or syringe to help you measure the correct amount. Ask your pharmacist for one if you don't have it. Do not measure the liquid with a kitchen teaspoon because it won't Prescription cough medicine codeine the right amount.
If your symptoms don't go away, your dose might go up or you may be prescribed a different medicine. Talk to your doctor if your pain or diarrhoea isn't relieved by the dose of codeine prescribed for you, or if side effects bother you or don't go away.
Sometimes, you may need to take codeine for longer. But usually a different medicine will be prescribed for long term pain or diarrhoea, especially if you have side effects like constipation. If you forget to take a dose, check the information on the patient information leaflet inside the packaging or ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice on what to do.
If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicine. This isn't usually a problem but you could get unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly.
If you want to stop taking codeine, talk to your doctor first. Your dose can be reduced gradually so you don't get unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If you have been taking codeine for more than a few weeks Prescription cough medicine codeine not stop taking it without speaking to your doctor first. It's important not to take more than your prescribed dose, even if you think it's not enough to relieve your pain. Speak to your doctor first, if you think you need a different dose. If you've taken an accidental overdose you may feel very sleepy, sick or dizzy. You may also find it difficult to breathe.
In serious cases you can become unconscious and may need emergency treatment in hospital. It's safe to take codeine with paracetamolibuprofen or aspirin aspirin is suitable for most people aged 16 years and over.
Some painkillers that you can buy without a prescription from pharmacies contain codeine. They include co-codamolibuprofen and codeine such as Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine. Do not take painkillers that you buy with codeine in Prescription cough medicine codeine prescribed codeine. You'll be more likely to get side effects. Like all medicines, codeine can cause side effects in some people - but many people have no side effects or only minor ones. Common side effects happen in more than Prescription cough medicine codeine in people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects bother you or don't go away:. In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction anaphylaxis to codeine. These are not all the side effects of codeine. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicine packet. In early pregnancy, it's been linked to problems in the unborn baby. If you take codeine at the end of pregnancy there's a risk that your newborn baby may get withdrawal symptoms or be born addicted to codeine.
However, it's important to treat pain in pregnancy. For some pregnant women with severe pain, codeine might be the best option. Your doctor is the best person to help you decide what's right for you and your baby. Codeine isn't usually recommended if you're breastfeeding.
Small amounts of codeine pass into breast milk and can cause breathing problems in the baby.
Speak to your doctor as they may be able to recommend a different painkiller. Some medicines and codeine interfere with each other and increase the chances of you having side effects. It's not possible to say that complementary medicines and herbal remedies are safe to take with codeine. They're not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They're generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements. It works in the central nervous system and the brain to block pain als to the rest of the body.
It also reduces the anxiety and stress caused by pain. When codeine blocks the pain, there are other unwanted effects - for example slow or shallow breathing. It also slows down digestion, which is why codeine can cause constipation. Codeine tablets, liquid and cough syrup all work in 30 to 60 minutes, but they wear off after a few hours. Yes, codeine is addictive. For this reason, your dose will be reviewed to make sure you are only taking the amount you need to control your pain, or diarrhoea. If you need to take it for a long time your body can become tolerant to it.
That means you need higher doses to control Prescription cough medicine codeine pain over time. Some people can become more sensitive to pain hyperalgesia. If this Prescription cough medicine codeine, your doctor will reduce your dose gradually to help these symptoms. If you're addicted to codeine, you may want to take it more often or feel agitated if you delay taking a dose for any reason. Drinking alcohol while you're on codeine may make you feel more sleepy or increase the risk of serious side effects.
It's best to stop drinking alcohol during the first few days of treatment until you see how codeine affects you.
Children aged 12 to 18 years can take codeine for pain or diarrhoea - but only if other medicines haven't worked. Use the lowest dose that works for no more than 3 days. If they still have symptoms after 3 days see a doctor.
Codeine shouldn't be given to children aged 12 to 18 years if they have breathing problems or if they have had their tonsils or adenoids removed because of obstructive sleep apnoea. If you're taking codeine for a short time and at normal doses, there's no firm evidence that it can reduce fertility. However if you've been taking it for a long time and you're concerned about your fertility, or you're trying to get pregnant, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor.
The type of painkiller that's best depends on what type of pain you have. If codeine doesn't get rid of your pain or becomes less effective, talk to your doctor. Codeine is a controlled medicine. This means there are Prescription cough medicine codeine rules on how it's prescribed and dispensed to make sure it's not given to the wrong person or misused. However, this doesn't affect you Prescription cough medicine codeine a patient. The rules only apply to the pharmacy that dispenses it.
When you first take codeine, you'll probably feel sleepy for a few days. But the sleepiness will wear off as your body gets used to the medicine. You might notice you're less alert. In this case, you might choose to have less than perfect pain relief as a trade-off. Do not drive a car or ride a bike if codeine makes you sleepy during the daytime, gives you blurred vision or makes you feel dizzy, clumsy or unable to concentrate or make decisions. This may be more likely when you first start taking codeine but could happen at any time - for example when starting another medicine.
It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected. It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive. Even if your ability to drive is not affected, the police have the right to request a saliva sample to check how much codeine is in your body. UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking codeine.
Codeine doesn't affect any type of contraception, including the combined pill or emergency contraception. But, if you are taking codeine because you have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, your contraceptive pills may not protect you from pregnancy. Look on the pill packet to find out what to do. If you take recreational drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine Prescription cough medicine codeine heroin while you're taking codeine, you're more likely to get the serious side effects of codeine including breathing difficulties, heart problems, seizures and even go into a coma.
Some recreational drugs, such as cannabis, will also increase codeine side effects such as sleepiness and dizziness. Taking heroin while you're on prescribed codeine is especially dangerous. You're more likely to get all the side effects of codeine, including addiction. last reviewed: 27 November Next review due: 27 November Codeine On this About codeine Key facts Who can and can't take codeine How and when to take it Taking codeine with other painkillers Side effects How to cope with side effects Pregnancy and breastfeeding Cautions with other medicines Common questions.
About codeine Codeine is a painkiller. Codeine is also used to treat diarrhoea. You can also buy codeine from a pharmacy as a syrup linctus to treat dry coughs. Codeine works by stopping pain als from travelling along the nerves to the brain. The most common side effects of codeine are constipation, feeling sick nausea and feeling sleepy.Prescription cough medicine codeine
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codeine, guaifenesin, and pseudoephedrine