What is Dihydrocodeine?
Dihydrocodeine is a powerful painkiller that belongs to the class of medicines called opioids (morphine derivatives). The active ingredient dihydrocodeine works by blocking or reducing pain signals travelling between the nerves and the brain. Therefore, even though the cause of the pain may remain, less pain is actually felt. Dihydrocodeine also helps to suppress coughing.
What is Dihydrocodeine used for?
Dihydrocodeine is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, for example:
- Pain from surgery or injury;
- Nerve pain;
- Joint pain (e.g. relating to arthrosis and arthritis );
- Menstrual pain;
- Pain caused by serious illness;
- Pain caused by the cold or flu.
Dihydrocodeine is also used to treat tickly coughs because of its cough suppressing effect. Dihydrocodeine is a fast-acting painkiller that takes less than half an hour to become effective and provides about four hours of relief.
How to use Dihydrocodeine
Dihydrocodeine is available as tablets, prolonged release tablets and oral solution. The tablets should be swallowed whole with some water. The oral solution comes with a dosage beaker for measuring the proper amount.
If you have a sensitive stomach it is best to take this medicine with or after meals to avoid stomach distress. The exact strength and dosage should be determined by a doctor. Always follow the prescribed dosage and read the package leaflet closely before use.
Unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor, the usual dose for adults aged 18 and above is:
- 30 mg every four to six hours.
For children and elderly people the appropriate dose is determined by a doctor. Dihydrocodeine is not suitable for children under the age of 12.
This medicine may have side effects, although not everyone gets them. Common side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. stomach ache, nausea, constipation);
- Dry mouth;
- Dizziness, sleepiness, concentration difficulties.
Consult your doctor if the side effects are severe or bothersome. See the package leaflet for a complete list of possible side effects.
When not to use Dihydrocodeine
Dihydrocodeine is not a suitable for everyone and should not be used if:
- you are allergic to dihydrocodeine or any other ingredient in this medicine;
- you have respiratory problems or a lung disease ;
- you are having an asthma attack.
Consult your doctor if you have a disease or health-related condition that is not listed above.
Dihydrocodeine interacts with other medicines, including some antihistamine medicines, soporifics and antidepressants. The doctor will have a list of medicines that you should avoid mixing it with. It is therefore important to tell the doctor what other medicines you are taking when you order. See the package leaflet for a complete list of contraindications, interactions and warnings.
Do not use this painkiller without consulting your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Dihydrocodeine may cause side effects such as sleepiness, dizziness and concentration difficulties, especially in the first few weeks of treatment. Stay out of traffic and do not operate heavy machinery if you experience these side effects.
Alcohol may cause or intensify side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness. It is therefore important to reduce or stop alcohol consumption while taking this medicine.