There are a number of medical uses for codeine but its primary use is for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Sometimes, codeine is also prescribed as a cough suppressant and the medication can be found in smaller doses in many over-the-counter cough suppressants. Codeine is usually used in combination with other medications such as acetaminophen or aspirin.
The medication is also sometimes used to treat diarrhea as it is known to cause constipation in those who are not suffering from bowel problems. Codeine is sometimes prescribed for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but in most cases there are other, safer medications that can be used for this treatment such as paregoric or laudanum. Talk with your doctor if you suffer from IBS and would like more information about these medications or other treatment options that may be available to you.
Codeine is provided in both single-ingredient formulations and combination preparations such as Tylenol with codeine. The codeine-only drugs come in a time release tablet usually in 50 or 100 milligram doses. The drug is also often found in cough syrups combined with up to 5 or more other active ingredients in the medication.
Although approved for use in both adults and children as young as 3 years old, codeine use in young children especially should be monitored very closely. Some children have suffered adverse, even fatal complications resulting from codeine use so for parents and caregivers who have children that are taking codeine products, it’s important to monitor their reaction to the medication closely.
Some doctors may prescribe codeine for the treatment of insomnia but in most cases, there are other more appropriate medications available to treat these conditions.
Most doctors will prescribe codeine for mild to moderate pain such as that related to:
- migraine headaches
- dental surgery or procedures
- mild injury
- chronic but mild pain
- long-term conditions that can cause pain
This medication is a narcotic and does have a wide potential for abuse so it’s important to talk with your doctor about any past or present substance abuse problems you may have and if you think that the recommended dose is no longer working, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible. Long term use of codeine medications can lead to tolerance and physical dependence that is dangerous and potentially fatal.