Oxycodone is a medication that is approved for treating pain. Specifically, medications containing oxycodone can be used for both short-term pain and long-term pain control. As a narcotic, opioid pain reliever, oxycodone causes several different effects in the body, such as pain relief, cough suppression, and decreased breathing. On occasion, your healthcare provider may prescribe the drug for uses that are not approved. Some of these off-label uses of oxycodone include treating shortness of breath and relieving pain in children.
What Is Oxycodone Used For?Oxycodone hydrochloride is an active ingredient found in many different prescription medications. Typically, it is used to treat pain, although it is sometimes also used for other uses (such as for treating shortness of breath).
Oxycodone is commonly used for "palliative care" (pain relief for people who are dying), as it helps relieve shortness of breath often experienced near the end of life, in addition to relieving pain, helping the person sleep, and providing some anxiety relief.
For pain control, this medication is used both for short-term pain (such as after a surgery) and for long-term pain control. Because it is a narcotic, many healthcare providers like to limit oxycodone use to the shortest period of time possible (see Oxycodone Addiction for more information).
Oxycodone comes in several different forms, reflecting the many different ways the drug can be used. Short-acting products are most useful for treating temporary pain or breakthrough pain (occasional pain that occurs despite treatment with longer-acting pain medications). Long-acting tablets are usually used when continuous, around-the-clock use of potent opioid medications is necessary for an extended period of time (for more than a few days).
Combination products (that combine oxycodone with another pain reliever, such as acetaminophen) are also available.