Codeine is typically prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate pain and is sometimes prescribed to reduce coughing. Most of the time, codeine is used in combination with other medications such as promethazine or acetaminophen. It belongs to a class of medications known as narcotics or opiate analgesics. Codeine is also a medication classified as an antitussive which is why it is sometimes prescribed for cough reduction.
Typically, the medication comes in tablet form but it can also come as an oral solution that is taken by mouth. The medication will usually be prescribed for use every 4-6 hours as needed for the reduction of pain or cough. It’s important to follow the directions on the prescription label very carefully to ensure your own safety or the safety of the individual taking the medication.
Codeine should never be taken in large doses or more frequently than recommended by a doctor. It’s very important to follow the doctors directions pertaining to dosing including time-frames and dosage amounts. This medication can be habit forming and should not be taken for an extended period of time unless prescribed by a doctor.
For children who are prescribed codeine medications or who are taking any medications that include codeine in them, do not give codeine on a regular schedule (such as every 6 hours regardless of symptoms). Codeine medications should only be given to children as needed and dosing should stop as soon as possible based on the symptoms for which the medication is prescribed.
For oral solution, make sure to shake the medication well before each dose to ensure that the medication is mixed well. Household spoons are not sufficient for measuring medications and can provide more or less than the prescribed dose. Use a measuring spoon or cup that was provided with the medication or use a measuring spoon that is designed for use with medication to ensure that too much or too little of the medication is not taken in a single dose.
If you are unsure how to use codeine or if you think that you have misused the drug and need help, call 911. If it is not an emergency but you feel like you need to talk with someone about codeine addiction or treatment, call our helpline at 800-774-6145.
What if I Miss a Dose?
If you miss a dose of codeine, do not double up! Do your best to always stay on track with your medication and not to miss a dose. Most of the time, codeine is prescribed as needed which means that if you miss a dose, there’s really no harm done. Simply take your dose when you realize that you need it and then be sure not to take another dose for the 4-6 hours or time-frame prescribed on the medication label.
Take Medication with Food
Sometimes, codeine will upset the stomach. If you find that taking codeine on an empty stomach seems to cause gastrointestinal problems or upset stomach, you can try taking the medication right after a meal. You may also find that taking the medication with a full glass of milk will reduce the upset stomach that sometimes occurs from taking codeine on an empty stomach.
Because codeine can dehydrate you, drink plenty of water and other fluids while taking this medication. This will prevent constipation and eliminate your need to take other medications to counteract the constipation that often occurs when taking opiates such as codeine or other prescription medications. If you do need to add other medications to your daily regimen, contact your doctor before taking anything prescribed or over-the-counter.