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Pharmacy and Medications

Codeine for Pain and Cough

11/09/2010

Question:

Hi is there any difference between the codein for cough and pain or any codein can be used to treat pain and cough at the same time?

Answer:

Thank you for contacting Net Wellness. Codeine is part of a class of medications known as opioids, all of which work as a cough suppressant and for pain relief. The codeine itself used for cough and pain is exactly the same. Keep in mind that codeine is often combined with other medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or drugs that thin mucous, so not all products with codeine in are the same.

If you are experiencing cough or pain and have leftover medication with codeine in it, it is recommended that you check with a doctor before taking this medication. Cough or pain can be signs of a more serious health problem. The doctor may want to see you and rule out more serious problems. In addition, the dose of codeine used for pain is different from the dose used for cough. A cough suppressant such as codeine is not recommended for all types of cough and codeine may not be the best choice for certain types of pain. Since codeine is often combined with other medications, these other medications may not be useful for the other condition but will put you at risk for unnecessary side effects. A doctor can prescribe a medication that will work best for your condition with the correct dose that puts you at the least risk of side effects.

Finally, codeine like other opioids can decrease people’s ability to breath, which can be dangerous. At correct doses, this side effect is usually not a concern, but too much codeine may cause people to stop breathing. Since codeine can be present in combination products, people can accidentally get two medications with codeine in it without realizing it. If you are getting a product with codeine for cough and another codeine product for pain, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking both. Make sure you understand how to take a codeine product and follow the directions exactly as prescribed.

Submitted by Kelly Jackson, PharmD Candidate, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy

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Response by:

Sarah Hudson-DiSalle, PharmD, RPh
Specialty Practice Pharmacist of Outpatient Pharmacy
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University