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What does it do?

Codeine is used to relieve pain, and sometimes for other conditions such as diarrhoea.

How should you take it?

Take codeine as directed with a glass of water.

What if you forget a dose?

If codeine is taken regularly, take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with codeine including:

  • cough suppressants (e.g. Duro-Tuss®, Benadryl Dry Forte®)
  • pain relief medicines containing codeine (e.g. Panadeine®)
  • sedating antihistamines (e.g. Phenergan®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products (e.g. valerian) or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Slow or shallow breathing, hard to wake up

Change in heartbeat

Tell your doctor immediately

Constipation

Confusion, mood swings

Tell your doctor

Drowsiness

Nausea, vomiting, dry mouth or throat, stomach upset

Sweating

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have lung, bowel, liver, kidney or heart problems or have had a recent head injury.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Codeine can be taken regularly or when required. If codeine is not relieving your pain contact your health professional.
  • Codeine may be used with other pain relievers (e.g. paracetamol).
  • Codeine may make you dizzy or sleepy and make it dangerous to drive, operate machinery or do other activities that require you to be alert. Limit alcohol intake because it can increase these effects.
  • Codeine may be addictive with long-term use.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. April 2016

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed