Codeine Contraindications

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Codeine

Codeine is an opiate (narcotic) medication that can be prescribed for pain relief and cough suppression. It can be a beneficial remedy for these problems and many people can take it safely. There are, however, some people who should not take codeine. It can interfere with other foods, medications and substances, and its effects can be deadly for some people who have certain medical conditions.

It helps to first explain what codeine is and how it works. Codeine comes from the opium poppy plant and can be synthesized from morphine. It works on opiate receptors in the brain to block pain signals. It also works on a part of the brain that deals with the cough reflex. Secondary effects include respiratory depression, sedation and opiate dependency.

Specific Contraindications Regarding Codeine

This drug is contraindicated for people who:

  • Have a known allergy to codeine or other ingredients in codeine-containing products.
  • Have any hypersensitivity to codeine.
  • Are currently suffering from dependence or addiction to alcohol or other substances.
  • Have acute respiratory depression.
  • Have problems with chronic constipation.

Others may not be able to take codeine because it can interact with other substances. Because it depresses the central nervous system, it should not be used in conjunction with other drugs and substances that have this effect. This can include other narcotics, alcohol, barbiturates, sedatives and muscle relaxers. There is also a fairly long list of other medications and substances that can interact negatively with codeine.

Codeine Plus Acetaminophen Can Cause Problems For Some Patients

Some codeine preparations combine the opiate analgesic with other substances to increase the effects. For instance, codeine is often combined with acetaminophen, which enhances the pain fighting properties. This preparation of codeine can be dangerous in high dosages because acetaminophen at high levels can cause liver damage. People who already have compromised liver function may be advised to avoid certain dosages of this medication.

In order to protect yourself, it's important to read the informational leaflet that accompanies every prescription for codeine. This will spell out possible side effects, risks, warnings and precautions relating to codeine use.