Always follow the directions from your healthcare provider. If you have questions, ask! Pharmacists are a great source of information when you need help.
Vicodin is prescribed for a wide variety of acute and chronic pain diagnoses. In the U.S., Vicodin and Hydrocodone are listed as Schedule II, III, and IV "narcotics". Controlled substances, such as Vicodin, are organized on different listed based upon their potency and risk of dependence. Certain strengths of Hydrocodone are Schedule III, while other preparations can be classified as Schedule II or Schedule IV. Most Schedule IV medications include cough suppressants. Hydrocodone has a soothing effect on chronic cough.
A “/” is used with Vicodin to indicate that the drug is a mixture of two separate medications. For example, 5/500 indicates that there are 5 mg of Vicodin and 500 mg of Acetaminophen in that one tablet. Remember, the first number indicates the milligrams of Hydrocodone. The second number (after the "/") indicated the milligrams of Acetaminophen.
Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can instruct you on whether or not the tablet can be split or broken in half (to get a lower dose). Some medications have special coatings on the outside to help them dissolve slower and should not be broken.
Vicodin comes in the following standard dosages (Schedule III):
Syrup formulations contain 7.5 milligrams of Hydrocodone and 500 milligrams of Acetaminophen per 15 milliliters (one tablespoon of liquid). Compounded Hydrocodone, 15-30 mg per capsule (Schedule II)
Vicodin Starting Dosages
Vicodin's starting dose for adults is the 5/500 combination product 1-3 times daily. Oftentimes, a healthcare provider will write “PRN” on a prescription. This means “as needed”; however, the injured person should not exceed 20 mg per Vicodin (or 3000 mg of Acetaminophen) per day. These dosing recommendations are for acute pain that lasts 1-10 days. Chronic pain suffers may use Vicodin at larger doses and for more extended periods of time.
Kids, children, and teens
The word “pediatric” describes medical patients from birth to 18 years of age. Doses of medications for pediatric patients are based upon the person's weight. Therefore, measuring height and weight is an important activity when infants, tod dlers, children, and teens go to their healthcare provider.
Patients with liver disease and kidney disease may need to have their dosage of Vicodin closely monitored. Many healthcare provider do blood work at the time of the injury to insure that Vicodin is safe to prescribe and take. Advanced age does not necessarily require a higher or lower dose of Vicodin. Vicodin may increase the risk for falls in senior citizens (because of the increased risk for dizziness and drowsiness).
Are there special dosing concerns for persons 250 lbs and heavier?
Currently, medical research has not discovered that persons of “size” need stronger doses. However, in practice, patients that weight over 250 pounds do, indeed, need larger doses of Vicodin to control pain. An increase in dose by 10-30% is not unusual for persons that carry extra weight. This extra weight could be muscle or adipos e tissues (fat).
Tips and Precautions for taking Vicodin
- Follow the directions from your healthcare provider
- Look at your prescription bottle when you pick up your medication
- Ask your pharmacist questions (even if you think it's “silly”)
- Call your healthcare provider if you experience side effects
- Avoid any alcohol (beer, wine, wine coolers, liquor) while taking Vicodin
- Avoid driving or operating machinery while taking Vicodin