Acetaminophen; Hydrocodone Bitartrate (Vicodin)

Vicodin is an opioid analgesic and antitussive used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.

FDA approved:

May 1982

Brand Names and International Availability:

Allay (US); Anexsia (US); Bancap-HC (US); Co-Gesic (US); Dolacet (US); Dolagesic (US); Hy-Phen (US); Hyco-Pap (US); Hycomed (US); Hydrocet (US); Hydrogesic (US); Lorcet (US); Lorcet 10/650 (US); Lortab (US); Margesic (US); Norco (US); Polygesic (US); Stagesic (US); Vanacet (US); Vicodin (US); Vicodin ES (US); Zydone (US)

How does it work?

The precise mechanism of action of hydrocodone and other opiates is not known, although it is believed to relate to the existence of opiate receptors in the central nervous system. It changes the way your body feels pain. 


400 mg/5 mg Tablets: The usual adult dosage is 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. The total 24-hour dose should not exceed 8 tablets.
400 mg/7.5 mg Tablets: The usual adult dosage is 1 tablet every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. The total 24-hour dose should not exceed 5 tablets. 
400 mg/10 mg Tablets The usual adult dosage is 1 tablet every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. The total daily dosage should not exceed 6 tablets.

How should I take it?

Take exactly as ordered by your doctor with food.


Those who have had a prior allergic reaction to Acetaminophen or Hydrocodone Bitartrate should not take Vicodin.

Vicodin should be used with caution in those with a history kidney or liver disease.

Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone Bitartrate should be used with caution in the elderly. 

Safe use in pregnancy has not been established in regards to possible adverse effects on fetal development. Babies born to mothers who have been taking opioids regularly prior to delivery will be physically dependent. Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone Bitartrate should be avoided by pregnant women.

Acetaminophen is excreted in breast milk in small amounts, but the significance of its effects on nursing infants is not known. It is not known whether hydrocodone is excreted in human milk. This drug should be not be used by nursing mothers.

Vicodin is not recommended for use in children.

Should be used with caution in those who are who depressed or addiction-prone.

Drug Interactions:

The CNS-depressant effect of propoxyphene is additive with that of other CNS depressants, including alcohol. 

The use of MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants with hydrocodone preparations may increase the effect of either the antidepressant or hydrocodone.

Because of the potent nature of this medicine, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription medicines and vitamins.

Possible side effects:

These side effects are not considered serious but are certainly annoying for those experiencing them. The most frequently reported side effects include dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, constipation, muscle twitches, sweating, itching, decreased urination, decreased sex drive. If these side effects occur and concern you, please contact your doctor.

Other less common, more serious side effects that should be reported to your doctor include: slow, weak breathing, seizures, cold, clammy skin, severe weakness or dizziness, unconsciousness, yellowing of the skin or eyes or unusual fatigue, bleeding, or bruising. 

Signs of a possible allergic reaction are rash, swelling and difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be reported immediately. 

Precautions & Special Notes:

LIMIT YOUR INTAKE OF ALCOHOL WHILE TAKING THIS DRUG. Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking tranquilizers, sleep aids, antidepressants, antihistamines, or any other drugs that make you sleepy. Combining vicodin with alcohol or these drugs in excessive doses is dangerous.

Use care while driving a car or using machines until you see how the drug affects you because Vicodin can make you sleepy. 

Take only as ordered. Vicodin when taken in higher-than-recommended doses over long periods of time, may produce drug dependence characterized by psychic dependence and, less frequently, physical dependence and tolerance.

Acetaminophen and hydrocodone may also cause constipation. Drink plenty of water (six to eight full glasses a day) to lessen this side effect. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can also help to alleviate constipation.

For more information:

RxList: hydrocodone bitartrate

MedicineNet: hydrocodone/acetaminophen 

Mosby’s GenRx?, 11th ed. Copyright ? 2001 Mosby, Inc.