Can you take Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen together

What is Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is a Generic name for an opioid drug which is synthesized from codeine, an opioid alkaloid that can be found in the opium poppy.

This drug is narcotic analgesic which is used orally for relieving the moderate to severe pain, but it is also commonly used in liquid form as an antitussive agent for symptomatic relief of nonproductive cough, alone or together with other cough suppressants or expectorants.

This drug works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. As an analgesic, hydrocodone is usually combined with ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin for pain treatment.

The analgesic action of hydrocodone starts in 20–30 minutes and lasts for about 4–8 hours. However, hydrocodone is only used for the treatment of patients who are expected to need painkiller for severe pain for a long time, and who cannot be treated with other medicines or treatments.

Hydrocodone is predominantly prescribed in the US. According to the the International Narcotics Control Board, 99% of the worldwide hydrocone supply in 2007 was consumed in the US.

Other Brand names on the market containing hydrocodone are: Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER, Norco, Vicodin and Robidone.


What is Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ibuprofen is a Generic name for a drug containing the same name active ingredient.

It is used as a pain reliever for various conditions such as: headaches, dental pain, muscle pain, tendinitis (inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle), menstrual cramps, and for the treatment of pain, swelling and joint stiffness caused by arthritis, osteoarthritis, juvenile arthritis, bursitis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and gout.

It can also be used to temporarily reduce fever and for the treatment of common cold symptoms. Ibuprofen may be used intravascular with opiates for relieving moderate to severe pain. Ibuprofen lysine may be also used intravscular as a therapy for premature neonates with ductus arteriosus.

Ibuprofen is available in following dosage forms and strengths: capsule, capsule liquid filled, capsule coated (200, 220 and 400 mg), injection (100mg/ml), oral liquid (100 mg/5mL and 50 mg/1.25mL), solution (100 mg, 100 mg/5mL), suspension (100 mg, 200 mg/10mL, 100 mg/5mL) and tablet (200, 300, 400, 600 and 800 mg).

Common Brand names for ibuprofen are: Advil, Motrin, Brufen, Calprofen, Genpril, Ibu, Midol, Nuprin, Cuprofen, Nurofen, Ibuprofen 800 and PediaCare Children’s Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB.

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How does Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen work in the body

Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist of opioid receptors within the CNS. This morphinans structure substance blocks pain perception in the cerebral cortex of the brain.

Hydrocodone decreases synaptic chemical transmission in the CNS, which in turn inhibits pain sensation into the higher centers of the brain. Agonist activities at the μ and kappa receptors can cause analgesia, miosis, and decreased body temperature.

Agonist activity at the μ receptor can also cause the suppression of opiate withdrawal, while antagonist activity can result in precipitation of withdrawal.

Hydrocodone acts at several locations within the CNS by involving several systems of neurotransmitters to produce analgesia, but the precise mechanism of action has not been fully understood.

Opiate agonists don’t change the threshold or responsiveness of afferent nerve endings to noxious stimuli nor the conduction of impulses along peripheral nerves.

Instead, they alter the perception of pain at the spinal cord and higher concentrations in the CNS and the person’s emotional response to pain. Hydrocodone can produce inhibition at the chemoreceptors through μ-opioid receptors and in the medulla through μ and δ receptors which can lead to dose-related respiratory depression.

Ibuprofen inhibits synthesis of prostaglandins (substances in the body that play a key role in pain and inflammation processes in body tissues) by inhibiting at least 2 cyclooxygenase (COX) isoenzymes, COX-1 and COX-2.

Inhibition of COX-2 leads to the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects while the inhibition of COX-1 may cause gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.

Ibuprofen has the lowest risk of causing gastrointestinal bleeding of all NSAID, producing balanced inhibitory effects on both COX-1 and COX-2 isoenzymes. But, this advantage is lost at high doses.

This drug may also inhibit chemotaxis, decrease proinflammatory cytokine activity, alter lymphocyte activity, and inhibit neutrophil aggregation – these effects may also contribute to anti-inflammatory activity.

Can patients take Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen together

From a pharmacology standpoint, there is no harm if ibuprofen is taken together with hydrocodone. So if hydrocodone isn’t controlling the pain well, patients can use Ibuprofen and Hydrocodone but only with physician instructions.

Ibuprofen is a blood thinner and may cause bleeding in predisposed patients, so if patient is already taking Hydrocodone for the treatment of post-surgical pain, in that case, these drugs shouldn’t be used together.

There are also many other factors that can exclude the usage of Ibuprofen and Hydrocodone combination such as: age, past medical history, pregnancy and breast-feeding, and possible interactions with other medications, food or alcohol.

The table below shows side effects after Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen administration in recommendable doses. The incidence can be significantly increased if these drugs are overdosed or taken together.

Very common side effects 10 – 40% Upset stomach, Heartburn, Nausea, Vomiting, Edema, Constipation, Dizziness, Vertigo, Nausea, Headache, Somnolence Vomiting, Agitation, Emotional lability, Anxiety, Hallucinations, Euphoria, Nervousness, Asthenia, Pruritus, Dyspepsia, Spasticity
Common side effects 1-10% Diarrhea, Sweating, Dry mouth, Hypertonia, Malaise, Rash, Menopausal symptoms, Urinary frequency, Urinary retention, Visual disturbance, Vasodilation, Gastrointestinal bleeding, Perforation, and Ulcers, Dyspnea
Rare side effects < 1% Metabolic acidosis, hyperkalaemia Abnormal gait, Amnesia, Depression, Difficulty in concentration, Aplastic anemia, Erythematous macular rashes Cognitive dysfunction, Fatigue, Menstrual disorder, Motor system weakness, Hemolytic anemia, Thrombocytopenia, Neutropenia, Dysphoria, Dysuria, Orthostatic hypotension, Tremor, Tachycardia, Agranulocytosis, Erythema multiforme, Exfoliative dermatitis

Special precautions and warnings during Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen administration:

  • Patients should tell their doctor and pharmacist if they are allergic to hydrocodone or ibuprofen, or any other medicines, or any of the ingredients that are used in Hydrocodone or |Ibuprofen products.
  • Patients should tell their doctors or pharmacists what prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins or nutritional supplements they are taking or plan to take.
  • Patients should also tell their doctors if they are using any of the following medications: antihistamines; dronedarone, medications for irritable bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease and ulcers, haloperidol, azithromycin, amiodarone, butorphanol;chlorpromazine; citalopram, laxatives such as lactulose, nalbuphine; or pentazocine, levofloxacin.
  • They should also tell their doctors if they are taking the following medications or have stopped taking them within the past two weeks: isocarboxazid (Marplan), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). Doctor may need to change the doses of medicines or monitor carefully for side effects.
  • Hydrocodone shouldn’t be used if patient has blockage of stomach or intestines, or paralytic ileus.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they have or have ever had hypotension, difficulties with urinating, seizure attacks, or any of the thyroid, liver, kidney, gall bladder or pancreas disease.
  • If patients are taking hydrocodone extended-release tablets, they should tell their doctor if they have or have ever had difficulties with swallowing, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, heart failure or heart rhythm problems such long QT syndrome.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are breastfeeding.
  • If patients are having surgery, including dental surgery, they should tell their doctor or dentist that they are taking hydrocodone.
  • Hydrocodone may make patients drowsy. Patients taking hydrocodone should not drive a car or operate machinery.
  • Hydrocodone may cause dizziness, fainting and lightheadedness, if patient get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when initial dose of hydrocodone is taken. To avoid this problem, patients should slowly get out of bed, resting their feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
  • Hydrocodone can cause constipation. Patients should talk with their doctor about changing diet and using other medications to treat or prevent constipation.
  • There aren’t appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of ibuprofen and hydrocodone combination in children and teenagers below 16 years of age.
  • There aren’t also appropriate studies on the relationship of geriatric-specific problems with the effects of ibuprofen and hydrocodone combination. However, elderly patients are more likely to develop kidney or stomach problems which are age-related. Hydrocodone is more likely to cause breathing problems in older patients who are severely ill, malnourished, or if they have other risk factors
  • Pregnant patients should never use these medicines; because their babies could become drug dependent, so life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can be caused after baby is born. Those babies may need medical treatment for several weeks. Patients should tell doctor if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • If patient should have surgery, including dental surgery, he/she should tell the doctor or dentist that he/she is taking ibuprofen.
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