|Type of medicine||Opioid analgesic|
|Used for||Pain relief|
|Also called||DF 118 Forte®|
|Available as||Tablets, prolonged-release tablets, oral liquid, and injection|
Dihydrocodeine is used to control moderate types of pain. It works by binding to certain receptors (called opioid receptors) in your brain, which reduces the pain that you feel.
Dihydrocodeine is also an ingredient in a combination painkiller called co-dydramol. There is a separate medicine leaflet called 'Co-dydramol for pain relief' that explains about this.
Before taking dihydrocodeine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking dihydrocodeine, it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have any breathing problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have prostate or thyroid problems.
- If you have epilepsy or low blood pressure.
- If you have a problem with your bile duct or pancreas.
- If you have been constipated for more than a week or have an inflammatory bowel problem.
- If you have ever been dependent on drugs or alcohol.
- If you have recently had a severe head injury.
- If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
- If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take dihydrocodeine
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of dihydrocodeine you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take dihydrocodeine exactly as your doctor has told you. The usual dose for an adult is 30 mg every four hours, although your doctor or pharmacist will tell you what dose is right for you. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack. If you have been given dihydrocodeine for your child, check the label carefully to make sure you are giving the correct dose.
- Take your doses of dihydrocodeine after food where possible as this will help to reduce side-effects such as feeling sick.
- If you have been given prolonged-release tablets (DHC Continus®) these are specially formulated to release dihydrocodeine slowly to give you a more even painkilling effect. You should swallow these tablets whole - do not chew or crush them.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue as before. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice before taking dihydrocodeine and alcohol. Your doctor may recommend you do not drink alcohol while you are on this medicine, as it increases the possibility of side-effects such as dizziness and feeling sleepy.
- Do not take dihydrocodeine for longer than you have been advised by your doctor. This is because repeated use of dihydrocodeine over a period of time may lead to your body becoming dependent on it. If you then stop taking it suddenly, it can cause withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness and irritability.
Can dihydrocodeine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common dihydrocodeine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, abdominal pain||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Constipation||Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water each day|
|Feeling dizzy or sleepy||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store dihydrocodeine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Dihydrocodeine Tablets 30 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Dihydrocodeine Tablets 30 mg, Actavis UK Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2010.
- Manufacturer's PIL, DHC Continus® prolonged-release tablets 60 mg, 90 mg and 120 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, DHC Continus® prolonged-release tablets 60 mg, 90 mg and 120 mg, Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2010.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall