Pain Home > What Is Hydrocodone/APAP Used For?

Hydrocodone/APAP is typically used for the management of short-term pain associated with surgery or injury. However, it may also be prescribed to treat conditions that cause chronic pain, such as migraines. By combining the two primary ingredients, the medication's effectiveness may be enhanced and its potential for abuse lessened. There are no longer any off-label uses for hydrocodone/APAP.

Hydrocodone/APAP Uses: An Overview

Hydrocodone/APAP (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. It comes in a few different forms (tablets, capsules, or syrup) and in many different strengths. There are several different brand-name hydrocodone/APAP products, most of which are also available in generic form.
Hydrocodone/APAP is commonly used to treat short-term pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Occasionally, it is used to treat chronic pain, migraines, or other types of recurring, long-term conditions that cause pain. It is often used (or rather, abused) inappropriately, as it contains a narcotic medication (see Hydrocodone/APAP Abuse).

How Does Hydrocodone/APAP Work?

Hydrocodone/APAP contains two different medications: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It acts similarly to codeine. Hydrocodone is effective at decreasing pain and relieving coughing, but also causes drowsiness, mood changes, and mental "clouding." 
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol®. Combining hydrocodone with acetaminophen helps improve the medication's effectiveness and may limit the abuse potential of hydrocodone (the maximum dose of hydrocodone/APAP is limited by the acetaminophen content). Make sure to carefully monitor your acetaminophen intake (including acetaminophen from other sources) while taking hydrocodone/APAP in order to avoid toxicity (see Hydrocodone/APAP Drug Interactions and Hydrocodone/APAP Dosage for more information).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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