NZ Formulary



What does it do?

Dihydrocodeine is used to relieve pain.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have bowel problems, or have had a recent head injury.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you take it?

Take dihydrocodeine as directed with a glass of water. You can take it with or without food. Swallow whole - do not crush or chew.

What if you forget a dose?

If dihydrocodeine is taken regularly and it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

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

  • cough suppressants (e.g. Duro-Tuss®, Benadryl Dry Forte®)
  • sedating antihistamines (e.g. Phenergan®)

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

Important information continues on next page.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Slow or shallow breathing, hard to wake up

Tell your doctor immediately

Confusion, mood changes

Tummy pain (new or getting worse)

Tell your doctor


Take your prescribed laxatives. Tell your doctor

Drowsiness, dizziness

Nausea, vomiting, dry mouth or throat


Tell your doctor if troublesome

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

Other information:

  • Dihydrocodeine can be taken regularly or when required. If dihydrocodeine is not relieving your pain contact your health professional.
  • Dihydrocodeine may be used with other pain relievers (e.g. paracetamol).
  • Dihydrocodeine can impair your ability to do tasks such as driving or using machines. Alcohol makes this worse. Discuss your risk with your health professional. (search NZTA - Are you safe to drive?)
  • Dihydrocodeine may be addictive with long-term use.
  • If you have been taking dihydrocodeine regularly for a long time, talk to your doctor before stopping.