Hydrocodone and Constipation
When hydrocodone was looked at in clinical studies, constipation was noted as a common side effect. Constipation is so predictable that many healthcare providers recommend that people who take hydrocodone also take a laxative before any problems occur. If you develop severe constipation while taking hydrocodone, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Hydrocodone is a prescription narcotic that is used in various different pain and cough medications. Constipation is a common, predictable side effect of hydrocodone. Most people who take the drug will develop some degree of constipation, although you may be lucky enough to avoid this side effect if you take hydrocodone for just a few days (or if you only take it occasionally).
Constipation due to hydrocodone will not go away on its own, as long as you continue to take the medication. Someone who has been taking hydrocodone for years is just as likely to have constipation due to the drug as someone who just started taking it. The body never adjusts or adapts to the effects of hydrocodone that cause constipation. Therefore, measures to treat and prevent constipation due to hydrocodone are usually necessary.
Although non-drug treatments for constipation (such as exercise and increased fiber and water intake) may help a little, most healthcare providers agree that a laxative is necessary to prevent and treat constipation due to hydrocodone. Although stool softeners, such as docusate (Colace® and others), may provide some relief, stimulant laxatives are often necessary. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to recommend a laxative that is best for your situation (don't forget to mention that you are taking hydrocodone). Many people find that a combination stool softener plus stimulant laxative (such as Peri-Colace®) works well for constipation due to narcotics.
The use of laxatives to prevent and treat constipation due to hydrocodone is extremely important in some situations, such as after a heart attack or after delivering a baby. In these situations, constipation can be extremely painful (after having a baby) and even life-threatening (after having a heart attack -- when straining should be avoided).