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Acetaminophen with codeine


Acetaminophen and codeine is an excellent analgesic combination for mild to moderate pain relief.

It can ease the discomfort of a bad toothache or the aftermath of minor surgery, as well as a wide array of other situations that call for pain management.

One of the most commonly prescribed brand name preparations is Tylenol with codeine. It is also available as Margesic and Phenaphen with codeine.

The number on the formula represents the amount of codeine the formula contains. No. 1 has 7.5 mg of codeine, No. 2, 15 mg, No. 3, 30 mg and No. 4 contains 60 mg of codeine.

Side Effects and Interactions

Other than dizziness, drowsiness and nausea, side effects may include constipation, loss of appetite, headache, sweating and euphoria.

Some people experience shortness of breath, especially if they have asthma.

Other less common reactions include an allergic rash, disorientation, dry mouth and urinary difficulties. Report any such symptoms to your physician promptly.

Acetaminophen may cause liver or kidney problems in large doses or over long periods.

Your physician should evaluate your need for this combination pain reliever periodically.

If you are taking any other medicines, check with a physician or pharmacist about compatibility.

Alcohol as well as many over-the-counter and prescription drugs can add to the sedative effect of this analgesic and should be avoided.

Antihistamines, antianxiety agents, and sleeping pills require extra caution.

Both tricyclic and MAO-type antidepressants may interact with this analgesic to cause greater toxicity.

Special Precautions

Like any narcotic, codeine may make you drowsy. Do not drive or attempt any activity that requires coordination and judgement.

Older people may be more susceptible to this reaction.

Lightheadedness or dizziness could make walking dangerous. Never stand up suddenly, as it may make you feel faint.

Long-term use of acetaminophen and codeine has drawbacks since codeine may be habit forming if you take it regularly.

Do not increase the dose on your own in a quest to achieve greater pain relief. But don't play the hero by skipping doses during an acute crisis.

Pain is more easily managed if it can be nipped in the bud instead of trying to play catch up when it has gotten out of control.

Taking the Medicine

Some people react to codeine with nausea or vomiting.
Taking it with food may reduce stomach upset.

Nausea, dizziness and other common reactions may be less troublesome if you lie down for awhile.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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