Vicodin Warnings and Precautions

Prior to starting a new medication, it is important to be aware of its warnings and precautions. With Vicodin, these precautions include the danger of becoming addicted to the medication, the safety of taking the medicine when pregnant or breastfeeding, and potential drug interactions with Vicodin. Warnings and precautions also extend to people who have a severe head injury, lung disease, or liver disease.

Vicodin: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Vicodin® (hydrocodone/APAP) if you have:
 
  • Liver disease, such as cirrhosis, liver failure, or hepatitis
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • A head injury or high intercranial pressure
  • Severe abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison's disease
  • An enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH)
  • Lung disease of any sort
  • A history of drug or alcohol dependence
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Vicodin Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Vicodin include the following:
 
  • Vicodin is a narcotic medication with significant potential for abuse. It is not a good choice for people who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse (see Vicodin Abuse). Do not take the drug more frequently, longer, or at a higher dose than prescribed. If you feel you may be developing a problem with Vicodin, please seek help from your healthcare provider.
     
  • Vicodin contains quite a bit of acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Taking too much Vicodin, or taking Vicodin in combination with other products that contain acetaminophen, can cause severe liver problems or even death due to Tylenol poisoning. Vicodin may not be a good choice for people who already have liver disease.
     
  • Vicodin can cause slow and irregular breathing. In severe situations, this may be life-threatening. This may be especially dangerous in people with lung problems.
     
  • The medication can cause problems in people with head injuries or high intercranial pressure. Vicodin should only be used with extreme caution in such circumstances.
     
  • Vicodin can interfere with the diagnosis of many conditions that cause severe abdominal (stomach) pain.
     
  • Like any other narcotic, Vicodin can cause dizziness and drowsiness, and may increase the risk of falls in elderly people.
     
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Vicodin affects you. Your reflexes and reaction times may be significantly affected, even if you feel fine.
     
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking the drug if you have hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, an enlarged prostate, or kidney disease, as Vicodin may not be the best choice for you.
     
  • Narcotics such as Vicodin are likely to cause constipation. This side effect does not go away as you continue to take the drug. Usually, laxatives are necessary to treat and prevent constipation due to Vicodin (see Vicodin and Constipation).
     
  • Vicodin can potentially interact with several other medications (see Vicodin Drug Interactions).
     
  • Vicodin is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Vicodin and Pregnancy).
     
  • Vicodin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Vicodin and Breastfeeding).
     
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