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What Should I tell My Healthcare Provider before Taking Codeine?

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Make sure to ask your doctor questions and talk about concerns about taking codeine.

It’s important to be open and honest with your healthcare professional to ensure your own safety, proper diagnosis and treatment. You should talk with your doctor about any past or present drug or alcohol abuse, your medical history, and your lifestyle prior to taking codeine. Your doctor will need to know the truth about the questions that he or she asks you so be sure to be open, honest and upfront with your healthcare professional.

Tell your doctor if you drink large amounts of alcohol, consume alcohol regularly or if you have had problems with alcohol in the past. Codeine is often combined with other drugs such as acetaminophen which can cause liver and kidney damage if taken with alcohol. These drugs can also cause damage to the liver or kidneys if these organs are already weakened as a result of prior alcohol abuse so it’s important to discuss your alcohol use with your doctor prior to taking codeine.

Be sure to mention any other drugs that you may be taking or that you have taken within the past two weeks. Dangerous drug interactions can occur when you take codeine and other substances so it’s important to let your doctor know about any medications you are currently taking so that he or she can be sure not to prescribe you a medication that is going to pose a potential risk to you. Sleeping pills, tranquilizers, sedatives, anxiety medications, allergy medications, MAOIs, and many other medications can interfere with or cause adverse side effects when taking codeine.

Although the American College of Pediatrics does claim that codeine is safe for use in nursing mothers, there have been recent admonitions as to the life-threatening side-effects that some infants have suffered from as a result of codeine being passed to them through their mother’s breast-milk. If you are nursing an infant, talk with your doctor about the dangers of taking codeine and discuss other potential medications that may be a better, safer fit for you and your infant.

If you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant, it’s important to openly discuss this with your doctor as well. The effects of codeine on an unborn child have not been widely researched at this time but as with any medications, there are inherent dangers and risks that can come with taking this drug while pregnant. If you are already taking codeine and you become pregnant, call your doctor immediately to discuss medication alternatives for the safety of your unborn child.

If you have a history of mental illness, surgery, head injury or trauma, or disease, it’s important to alert your doctor of these conditions prior to taking codeine. Some conditions warrant the need for more monitoring than others and this should be left up to your doctor to decide. Many doctors will choose to prescribe patients a different, less dangerous or less interactive medication based on previous conditions and other factors pertaining to the individual situation.

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