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What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone (opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (non-opioid pain reliever) that helps relieve moderate to severe pain.
Vicodin may be a habit-forming drug, even at regular doses. Never share it with someone else, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Misuse of narcotic medicine like Vicodin can cause overdose, addiction, or death, especially in a child or someone taking it without a prescription.
You should avoid taking Vicodin if you are allergic to Vicodin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or hydrocodone, or if you were recently using sedatives, alcohol, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications.
Interaction of some medicines with hydrocodone can cause a severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Ensure that your medical healthcare provider knows if you are using any medication for severe asthma, breathing problems, or stomach or intestinal blockage.
What to know before taking Vicodin?
Don’t use Vicodin if you have been taking an MAO inhibitor for the past two weeks. It can lead to a dangerous interaction. MAO inhibitors include tranylcypromine, rasagiline, selegiline, linezolid, isocarboxazid, and phenelzine.
To ensure Vicodin is not harmful to you, inform the doctor if you have ever had:
- Liver disease;
- Sleep apnea, breathing problems;
- Kidney disease;
- A drug or alcohol addiction;
- Urination problems;
- A head injury or seizures; or
- Problems with your pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder
Older adults are more likely to face breathing problems because of Vicodin. Avoid using this medicine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
How to take Vicodin?
Read the available medication guide and Patient Leaflet before you start taking this medicine and each time you get a refill. If you have any queries, ask any of your medical healthcare providers.
Take this drug orally as per your doctor’s prescription. You may take Vicodin with or without food. But it would be helpful to take this medicine with food if you feel nausea as each of your medical healthcare providers regarding other ways to decrease nausea, such as lying down for an hour or two with as little head movement as possible.
If you are taking the liquid form of this medication, use a dose-measuring device to get the proper amount of medicine. Do not use a regular household spoon because you get an incorrect dose.
Your dosage will depend upon your medical condition and response to the initial phase of treatment. In children, the dosage depends upon the weight. Please do not take the medication more frequently; take it for a more extended period than prescribed, or increase your dose. Stop this medicine when your medical healthcare provider recommends it to you.
Pain medications function best if you take them as the first signs of pain occur. If you wait for the pain to get worse, the medicine may not work efficiently.
If you have ongoing pain due to conditions like cancer, your doctor may suggest you also take long-acting opioid medications. In that case, Vicodin will be a sudden or breakthrough pain medication as needed. Your medical healthcare provider may also recommend other pain relievers such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Ask your medical healthcare provider how to use these drugs properly.
If you suddenly stop taking Vicodin, it may cause withdrawal, especially if you took it for a more extended period or in high doses. To prevent escape, lower your dosage gradually. Immediately inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as watering eyes, runny nose, restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, sweating, sudden changes in behavior, or mental disorders/ mood changes, including trouble sleeping, anxiety, thoughts or behavior of suicide.
If you take Vicodin for a long time, it may not work as well. Tell your medical healthcare provider if this medicine stops working efficiently after a time.
Though Vicodin helps many people in pain relief, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. The risk may be extensive if you have a substance use disorder such as drug overuse or addiction to alcohol. Take this medication precisely as per the prescription to lower the risk of addiction. Tell your medical healthcare provider if the pain does not get better or if it gets worse.
The usual dosage is one tablet or two every four to six hours as needed for pain. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed eight tablets.
In case of an overdose, call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, slow or shallow breathing, vomiting, loss of appetite, sweating, stomach or abdominal pain, slow heartbeat, extreme tiredness, dark urine, coma, yellowing of eyes or skin.
What to avoid while using Vicodin?
Vicodin may cause impairment in your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving any vehicle or operating any heavy machinery until you know this medicine’s effect on you. Severe drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidental falls or injuries.
Avoid consumption of alcohol because it may increase your liver damage risk while using acetaminophen.
Vicodin side effects
Vicodin may cause nausea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, or drowsiness. Some of these Vicodin side effects may reduce after you take this medication for a while. If they persist or worsen, immediately tell your medical healthcare provider.
To prevent constipation, drink sufficient water, eat dietary fiber, and exercise. Your doctor may recommend you to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which laxative form and brand is right for you.
To reduce the lightheadedness and dizziness risk, stand up slowly from a sitting or lying position.
Tell your medical healthcare provider immediately if you have any severe side effects, including interrupted breathing during sleep, stomach or abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, mental disorders or mood changes including trouble sleeping, anxiety, thoughts or behavior of suicide, fainting, seizure (or convulsions), slow or shallow breathing, severe drowsiness leading to difficulty in waking up, signs of adrenal glands not functioning efficiently (such as weight loss, unusual tiredness, loss of appetite).
A severe allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, take medical help if you notice any severe allergic reaction symptoms, including itching, rash, swelling of your face, throat, lips, or tongue, trouble breathing, severe dizziness.
It is not a complete list of side effects. If you notice other side effects contact your medical healthcare provider or report it to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What drugs can interact with Vicodin?
Various drugs can interact with Vicodin, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, herbal products, or vitamins.