Codeine vs hydrocodone - Which One is the Best Pain Relief Drug

Codeine vs hydrocodone – Which One is the Best Pain Relief Drug

Before going in details about the codeine vs hydrocodone we must know what exactly codeine and hydrocodone is and for that, we must know that codeine and hydrocodone are the names of the drugs that belong to the class of the opiates and are known as narcotic agents. Opiates are basically the group of drugs that are obtained from the plant named opium.

Most of the drugs have plant origin and some of them are also obtained from animals but still, most of them are plan origin and codeine and hydrocodone are drugs that are obtained from the plant that is named opium. Codeine is an alkaloid found in the opium poppy and hydrocodone is not all natural but it is semi-synthetic and it is synthesized from the codeine so both of them have almost same functions.

Opiates are named so because they act upon the opioid receptors. Most of these drugs act upon the mu opioid receptors. The drugs that are obtained directly from the Papaver somniferum are the codeine, morphine, and thebaine and almost all of them have the same functions but they are used for slightly different reasons and these drugs are considered to have high abuse potential. Clinically they are used to relieve pain and further explanation of codeine and hydrocodone will help you understand their clinical use.

Codeine and hydrocodone

As you already know what codeine and hydrocodone are you must know about how they act in the body and what makes them perfect for the clinical use in the patients. First of all, codeine is used to relieve the pain that occurs due to a cough and it also acts as an anti-tussive (anti-cough) agent and it also plays role in the treatment of diarrhoea a little beat.

Hydrocodone is also a narcotic and is used to relieve the pain. Codeine vs hydrocodone doesn’t have many differences because they belong to a single class of drugs but still, but has a few differences that help us support the argument of codeine vs. hydrocodone

. Hydrocodone is available in the form of extended-release tablets versus codeine which is mostly in the liquid form like syrups etc. hydrocodone is obtained from the codeine in such a way that codeine is first converted into dihydrocodeine and then it gets converted in hydrocodone while codeine is obtained directly from the poppy plant.


Pain is the extreme sensation that is felt at the pain nerve endings which tells our brain that something is wrong in that or some other part of our body and even though we hate when we have to go through the pain but still it is like an alarm system of our body warning us about a specific condition. Pain is of different types like they have several grades and the pain of cancer is one of the highest grades of pain.

To treat these types of pain there are different types of drugs like NSAIDs and the narcotics/ opiates. Morphine that is used to relieve the pain of cancer belongs to the narcotics class of drugs which means that narcotics are used relieve the highest degree of pain.

Codeine and hydrocodone as already been told are used to relieve the pain too and in codeine vs hydrocodone comparison codeine is used to relieve the cough pain and hydrocodone in the form of extended-release form is used to treat the persistent pain. Opioids are the most effective form of the painkillers and they change your perception of pain and are known to be best and we can understand it because they are used in the cancer pain.

Codeine vs. hydrocodone

Now coming toward towards the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison we should know that codeine is natural while the hydrocodone is semi-synthetic and already been told that codeine is used to relieve the cough pain while the hydrocodone is used in the other types of pains.

The codeine is available in the form of immediate release tablets and also in the form of liquid formulations and you will find it in the cough syrups too while on the other hand, the hydrocodone is available in the form of extended-release tablets. Going further into the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison they both differ in their doses too.

Codeine tablets are available in the strength of 15 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg while on the other hand the hydrocodone tablets are present in the strength of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg and 10 mg which shows that the potency of hydrocodone versus the codeine is higher and that is why it is available in the small doses and also it is present in the extended release formulations and these extended-release tablets are available in the strength of the 10 mg t 120 mg.

These tablets are to be taken as prescribed by the doctor and hydrocodone is usually prescribed after every 4 to 6 hours as needed for the pain and extended-release tablets are to be taken after every 12 hours. Usually, doctors start the medication with the smallest dose and then adjusted according to the pain.

Side effects

Every drug has a few side effects and while taking a medication you must also consider these side effects so that if you already have a condition going on it doesn’t get worse by the occurrence of these side effects. Some of these side effects help with the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison while some of the side effects are same that occur because of these medications. Following are the side effects that are common to both these medications.

  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting

So these were some of the side effects that are common and now coming towards the side effects that help with the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison, following are some of them

  • Codeine causes the sweating, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath in the patients.
  • While on the other hand hydrocodone is responsible for the itching and loss of

Misuse and withdrawal

We all know the opioids have the potential to be misused for the recreational purposes as we know that morphine is mostly used for this purpose and there are a lot of people out there that are addicted to these drugs and that is why they are prescription only medications so the cannot be misused for recreational purposes. The increased use of codeine and hydrocodone can be damaging to your liver and can cause urinary retention.

In the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison, the hydrocodone has more misuse potential as compared to the codeine and that is why the hydrocodone is the prescription-only drug while you can find codeine without any prescription. The withdrawal symptoms of both of this medication are worse and will occur if you keep using it for a prolonged period of time. In children, the extended-release tablets of hydrocodone can turn out to be fatal so make sure to keep these medications away from the reach of your children.

So this was the codeine vs hydrocodone comparison by the help of which you can easily understand the difference between them and which type of medication you should take or avoid and if you have any confusion you can discuss it further with your doctor, in fact, discuss all the medications of yours with your doctor before starting the treatment.

Oxycodone vs Hydrocodone

Oxycodone vs Hydrocodone

Before we don in the detailed discussion of oxycodone vs hydrocodone we should know in detail what oxycodone and hydrocodone are and all about them. Both of these are the pain relief drugs that are the prescription-only drugs.  By prescription only drugs we mean the type of drugs that can be bought only when prescribed by the health practitioner himself. Even being only the pain relieving medicines oxycodone and hydrocodone are still the prescription-only medicines and the reason why is that they are used to relieve the pain in some specific conditions and diseases like a chronic cough, cancer, and arthritis. Both of these drugs are used for the treatment of chronic or long-term pain. Both of these drugs can be taken only with the prescription.

Oxycodone vs hydrocodone – The Introduction

Oxycodone and hydrocodone both are the narcotic analgesics. Narcotics are those painkillers that are the opioid derivatives. Oxycodone is the semisynthetic opioid that is synthesized from the opioid alkaloid thebaine found in the Persian poppy plant. Hydrocodone, on the other hand, is the semisynthetic too and is synthesized from the opioid codeine and it is also known as dihydrocodeine and it is also obtained from the Persian poppy plant.


Both of these drugs have almost the same mechanism of action for the pain relief. They bind to the opioid receptor and inhibit the adenylyl-cyclase and also inhibit the hyperpolarization of neuron which results in the inhibition of the excitation of the neurons and thus there is the relief of the pain. In short, both of these drugs inhibit the pain signals to reach the brain. Both of these drugs bind to the mu opioid receptors which result in a relief of pain.

Both of these drugs can be given alone and also in the combination but there is a difference between the oxycodone vs hydrocodone can be combined with the acetaminophen which is another painkiller and the combined effect thus helping the patient to relax until the painkiller starts working while the hydrocodone can be combined with the antihistamines to create a syrup that can be used to reduce or suppress a cough and it also helps to achieve the relief from the cough pain.

Drug class of these drugs

Oxycodone and hydrocodone both of these drugs belong to the narcotic analgesic class of drug while in the completely different context of being misused they belonged to two different schedules. The oxycodone vs hydrocodone was on a different schedule but that lasted only until 2014 when both the drugs were placed on the same schedule. They are counted in the schedule II drugs now according to which they both have the tendency to be misused. This schedule indicates the potential of being misused as well as the medicinal use of these compounds and the oxycodone and hydrocodone lie in the schedule II.

Drug Dosage

Drug dosage and the form is another thing that can help with the comparison of oxycodone versus hydrocodone. Even though both of these drugs belong to narcotics analgesic class but still their dosing regime and form can be a little or entirely different from each other. Oxycodone vs hydrocodone is available in the form of the tablets that can be prescribed by the doctor to be taken every 12 hours and these tablets come in different doses and the dose is selected based upon the extent of pain the patient is going through and on the other hand the hydrocodone comes in the extended release form which means it will be absorbed into your blood really slow to provide your body with constant and continuous dose of the drug.

And another form of hydrocodone is also available that can be taken after every 12 hours and that dosage for is the capsules but if you are not keen on the idea of taking medication after 1 hour then you should go for the extended release type of drug dosage form. So this is a little point to support the oxycodone vs hydrocodone argument that gives you a reason to select the type of medication based on what you feel comfortable to use.


Ignoring every other thing the main thing that usually people focus upon is the effectiveness of the drug and they are likely to go for the one that is more effective. Buy in this case there is no such strong proof to support the oxycodone vs hydrocodone argument because the studies have shown that both of these drugs relieve pain the exact same way and the effectiveness is same too.

Both of these drugs are used to release a high degree of pain experiences in fractures etc. and the effect of both of the drugs start after 30 minutes. But some studies have shown that people who used hydrocodone had to suffer from constipation more frequently than the oxycodone and also that oxycodone vs hydrocodone when combined with acetaminophen, was 1.5 times more effective.

Side effects

The side effects of both of these drugs just like their effect are quite similar and following is the list of some of the side effects of both of these drugs.

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness
  • Lethargy
  • Motor skill impairment
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth

Side Effects of Oxycodone vs Hydrocodone

Both of these drugs produce the same side effects but coming to the comparison it can be noticed that in oxycodone vs. hydrocodone, oxycodone is more likely produces side effects like lethargy, headache, euphoria, and dizziness while on the other hand hydrocodone is more likely to cause side effects like constipation and stomach ache. There are also some serious side effects observed by the use of these two drugs and those side effects are

  • Seizures
  • Pain while urination
  • Arrhythmia
  • Confusion etc.

So these were some of the similar as well as the different side effects that are observed by the use of oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Cost difference

The cost difference between these two drugs can also help us determine which drug to choose from the oxycodone vs hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a little expensive than the oxycodone. The difference between the prices is quite a lot so you can choose the one that is less expensive if you are looking for economical treatment.


There are a lot of conditions in which both of these drugs are contraindicated like in the condition of asthma they should avoid taking these medications and in case of already existing constipation, you should avoid taking both of them but especially the hydrocodone which causes more constipation than the oxycodone.

Pregnant women are advised to discuss them with their doctors while in the nursing mothers both shouldn’t be used at all because it can pass through the breast milk and can enter in the baby’s body leading to serious consequences. So you should also avoid leaving pills within the reach of children because if ingested accidentally can cause harm to your baby.

So these were some of the differences and now its upon you which one you consider the better pain reliever for you and also you should discuss it with your doctor about how you feel comfortable about taking which one of the pills and so the doctor will guide you about what could be the better choice for you in oxycodone vs hydrocodone.