• Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Hydromorphone
Drug Class: Hydromorphone > Semi Synthetic Opioid > Opioids > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.


Hydromorphone, commonly known as Dilaudid, is an opioid pain reliever. It is also prescribed to relieve a dry cough. Hydromorphone is synthesized from morphine and is used as an alternative to morphine when a cough suppressant is needed in conjunction with pain relief. Learn More About Hydromorphone Uses

Other, off label uses for this medicine

Hydromorphone is widely prescribed to relieve pain from a variety of causes. Off label uses include dental pain, postoperative pain coverage, headaches and backaches.

More Off-Label Uses for Hydromorphone


Hydromorphone comes in tablets, rectal suppositories, as oral solutions and as injectable formulations. Tablets are available in extended release. Hydromorphone may also be delivered subcutaneously, intramuscular and as an epidural.

Oral hydromorphone doses are typically 2 to 4 mg every four to six hours as necessary to control pain. Rectal suppositories doses are normally 3 mg every six to eight hours as needed. IV drips and PCA pumps deliver continuous doses of medicine for round-the-clock coverage.

Since hydromorphone is typically prescribed on an as-needed basis, you are not likely to be on a schedule. If you are on a maintenance schedule of hydromorphone for chronic pain and miss a dose, take a dose as soon as you remember or wait until the next scheduled dose. Do not double up on doses in an effort to catch up.

Read More About Hydromorphone Administration and Dosage


Hydromorphone and other opioids work by interfering with the way you perceive pain by binding to opiate receptors in your brain and nervous system. Hydromorphone also produces a euphoric feeling. This opioid reduces your physical and emotional response to pain.

More About How Hydromorphone Works


Tell your doctor if you have ever suffered an allergic reaction to hydromorphone drugs like Dilaudid or other narcotic drugs like codeine, methadone, morphine, Oxycontin, Darvocet, Percocet, Vicodin and Lortab. Do not take hydromorphone while having an asthma attack or if you have been diagnosed with the bowel obstruction known as paralytic ileus.

Notify your physician or pharmacist if you have a history of liver or kidney disease, history of alcoholism, lung or thyroid disease, heart disease, prostatic hypertrophy, or urinary problems. Be sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware of any history of head injury, brain tumors or seizures. Alert your healthcare professional to any personal or family history of mental illness, depression or other mood disorders as well as any alcohol or substance abuse.

Tell your surgeon or dentist about your hydromorphone use before you have an operation or dental surgery. Hydromorphone may cause depressed respirations or unsafe drug interactions during medical or dental procedures.

Hydromorphone may make you drowsy; do not operate heavy machinery until you know how your body handles Hydromorphone.

Alcohol may increase drowsiness caused by hydromorphone; alcohol taken in conjunction with hydromorphone can also cause much more dangerous side effects or even death. Do not take other pain relievers in conjunction with hydromorphone unless otherwise directed by your physician.

Hydromorphone can be habit-forming and it is possible to develop an increased tolerance to hydromorphone. Notify your doctor if hydromorphone suddenly stops relieving your discomfort effectively. Do not take more hydromorphone than you need to control pain and do not continue to take this medication longer than directed.

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Hydromorphone use carries a risk for respiratory depression, abuse and medication errors. Using alcohol, other opiates or sedatives with hydromorphone increases this risk. Do not take a higher dose, or take hydromorphone more frequently, than prescribed by your doctor. Doing so may result in severe breathing problems, seizures, coma or death. Stop taking hydromorphone as directed. Speak with your physician if you have trouble stopping this medication; she can recommend effective detoxification treatment. Liquid hydromorphone may harm your unborn child. Hydromorphone liquid is found in breast milk; do not nurse your baby while taking liquid hydromorphone. Babies born to mothers taking hydromorphone may suffer physical dependency and experience difficulty breathing and withdrawal symptoms.

You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking hydromorphone. If you cannot wean yourself from the drug by slowly decreasing doses, contact your doctor to discuss detoxification treatment options.

Never share hydromorphone or other pain medications with another person, especially if that person has had a drug or alcohol abuse problem in the past. Keep this and all drugs away from children and pets.

More Warnings About Using Hydromorphone

Drug Interactions

Do not take hydromorphone with other narcotic pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers or muscle relaxants. These drugs may make you drowsy, depress your breathing patterns or put you at risk for other serious medical complications caused by hydromorphone drug interactions.

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Side effects

You may experience certain side effects while taking hydromorphone. These side effects range from moderate to severe. Consult with your physician if moderate side effects become acute or if they do not go away on their own. Seek immediate medical help if you experience severe side effects. Moderate side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness.
  • Blurred Vision.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.

Severe side effects:

  • Allergic Reaction.
  • Fainting.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Irregular Heartbeat.
  • Mood Changes.
  • Seizure.
  • Trouble Breathing.
  • Tremors.
  • Vision Changes.
  • Severe or Persistent Dizziness and Drowsiness.

Learn More About Hydromorphone Side Effects


Seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect that you or someone you know has taken an overdose of hydromorphone.

Symptoms of hydromorphone overdose include:

  • Extreme Drowsiness.
  • Pinpoint Pupils.
  • Confusion
  • Cold and Clammy Skin.
  • Weak Pulse.
  • Shallow Breathing.
  • Fainting.
  • Breathing that Stops.

Learn More About Hydromorphone Overdose


Hydromorphone is a Schedule II drug, which means it carries a significant risk for abuse and physical as well as psychological dependence. Pharmaceutical companies legally manufacture hydromorphone for licit use as a pain reliever but abusers obtain hydromorphone through forged prescriptions, bogus prescription call-ins to pharmacies, "doctor shopping" as well as theft from pharmacies and friends. Read More About Hydromorphone Abuse


You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking hydromorphone, especially if you have been using high doses or taking the opioid for a long period of time. Withdrawal is a sign of dependency. Withdrawal symptoms may prevent you from quitting hydromorphone without medical assistance. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Delusions.
  • Tremors.
  • Rapid Heartbeat.
  • Rigid Muscles.
  • Anxiety.
  • Flu-like Symptoms.
  • Sweating.


Dependency and addiction to Dilaudid and other forms of hydromorphone is often difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you have been taking large doses or using these opioids for a long time. Fortunately, there are in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities where trained professionals can minimize withdrawal symptoms, detoxify your body and give you the tools you need to live drug-free. Detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling are effective therapies to treat addiction to hydromorphone and other opiates. Learn More About Hydromorphone Detoxification Programs


Keep hydromorphone away from excessive heat and moisture. Do not keep this drug in your bathroom or car. Store hydromorphone away from children, pets and adults who might accidently or purposeful consume the drug. Do not share hydromorphone with others, especially with individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse.

Read More About Storing Hydromorphone