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Article Summary

Codeine Side Effects

Codeine refers to a group of narcotic pain medicines. Codeine is usually used to treat mild to moderately pain. Codeine can also be used for other purposes that are not listed in medical guides. It is important to note that not all codeine side effects are reported. You must therefore consult with your doctor in case you experience a new side effect.

Codeine consumer side effects

These side effects apply to codeine oral tablets. You must seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following signs of codeine allergic reaction; difficulty breathing, hives, face swelling, lips swelling, tongue swelling or throat swelling. You must stop using codeine immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects namely; fast heart pounding, uneven heartbeats, light-headedness, fainting, high blood pressure, blurred vision, severe headache, buzzing in the ears, anxiety, chest pain, confusion, shortness of breath, seizure, uneven heartbeats, restlessness, tremor, hallucinations, motor tics and any other unusual behavior.

Mild/less serious codeine side effects

Some of the mild codeine side effects include; dizziness or headaches, insomnia (sleep problems), dry mouth, unpleasant taste in the mouth, constipation, diarrhea, loss of weight, loss of appetite, impotence, lack of interest in sex and difficulty having an orgasm. It is important to note that there are many other mild codeine side effects that may not be mentioned above. You should therefore stay alert for any other side effect/s. You must also report any new side effects/allergic reactions to your doctor for advice.

Codeine side effects for professionals

These side effects apply for codeine oral tablets and oral tablet extended release.

Codeine Cardiovascular side effects

Some of the serious common codeine cardiovascular side effects include; tachycardia, palpitations and elevated/high blood pressure. Other serious codeine side effects that have been reported rarely include; sudden death, stroke, cardiomyopathy and myocardial infarction. According to numerous controlled studies, codeine use among young adults i.e. patients below the age of 45 increases risks of developing cardiomyopathy. Codeine use among this age group also results in development of severe form of cardiomyopathy. It is however important to note that myocardial pathology can be reversed early.

Codeine nervous system side effects

Some of the most common codeine nervous system side effects include; restlessness, overstimulation, dizziness, euphoria, insomnia, dyskinesia, dysphoria, headache, tremor, exacerbation of phonic tics and motor and tourette's syndrome. Side effects such as long-term neurotoxicity have also been associated with codeine abuse.

Codeine gastrointestinal side effects

According to studies xerostomia that is secondary to chronic methamphetamine results in significant oral issues i.e. dental caries and tooth wear caused by bruxism. Some common codeine gastrointestinal side effects include; dry mouth, diarrhea, unpleasant taste, constipation, weight loss or undesired anorexia among other disturbances. Some rare gastrointestinal side effects of codeine include; giant ulcer formation.

Dermatological and endocrine side effects

Some of the common dermatological side effects of codeine include; urticaria or hives and skin rash. Endocrine side effects include; impotence, change in libido e.t.c.

Psychiatric and ocular codeine side effects

Psychiatric side effects of codeine include psychotic episodes. It is important to note that this side effect is common with high codeine doses. The side effect is therefore rare. Persistent psychiatric side effects in codeine users include; psychotic symptoms which are attributable to reduction in dopamine transporter activity. Ocular codeine side effects include; visual disturbances i.e. blurred vision and difficulty with accommodation caused by stimulant therapy.

Other codeine side effects

Other common codeine side effects in children aged 7 - 10 years is slow/stunted growth. Numerous experiments carried out on children receiving monitored codeine dosage treatment revealed slow growth rate. It is however important to note that there is no evidence of rebounding growth during and after experiments. It is therefore unknown whether prolonged or chronic usage of codeine cause permanent suppression of growth in children.

Other codeine side effects include significant elevation of plasma corticosteroid levels especially in the evening. Temporary growth suppression especially in adults is also a common codeine side effect associated with prolonged usage. Codeine is also known to interfere or affect urinary steroid determination.

In summary, not all codeine side effects are mentioned above. It is possible to experience other codeine side effects that may not be documented. In case this happens, consult your doctor immediately for advice.

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