Lortab Side Effects

Lortab contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid pain reliever with qualities similar to codeine. Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed painkiller in the U.S. Hydrocodone is associated with more drug abuse than any other prescription or illegal opioid. Lortab may cause side effects often associated with other opioids.

Acetaminophen is a mild analgesic that also reduces fever. Acetaminophen use may cause allergic reactions, rash, low blood platelet count and low white blood cell count.

Lortab is available as a tablet or liquid. Side effects vary slightly between the two preparations.

Lortab, like all medicine, has the potential to cause side effects. Many people experience no, or minor, side effects while taking Lortab. Most adverse reactions are not serious in nature and go away with continued use. A few side effects are serious and require immediate medical attention.

The most frequently reported side effects include light-headedness, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting. Patients who are able to walk around on their own are more likely to experience these adverse reactions than are consumers confined to a bed or wheelchair. Lying down seems to ease these symptoms for most people.

Dependence and Withdrawal

Potential for abuse, physical dependence or addiction are possible side effects from taking this drug. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies substances according to the potential for abuse. The DEA has classified this drug as a Schedule III narcotic, which means consumers face a moderate risk for abuse and mental or physical dependence.

Physical dependence means the individual will suffer withdrawal symptoms if he stops taking Lortab or he has taken a medication, such as naloxone, to reduce the amount of Lortab in his system rapidly.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting

Most adverse reactions associated with Lortab usually become less intense or stop completely with continued use at proper doses. The most serious side effect is respiratory difficulties that can lead to stopped breathing, circulation problems, dangerously low blood pressure and shock. Prescribing physicians should expect side effects and treat patients accordingly.

Respiratory depression is a dangerous condition where the lungs do not adequately exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide and other blood gases. Symptoms of respiratory depression include slow or shallow breathing, trouble breathing and a bluish tint around the victim's eyes, mouth and fingertips.

Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction is a serious medical emergency that requires prompt care. Stop taking Lortab and seek medical assistance right away if you think you are suffering an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Tightness in the Chest
  • Swelling of the Mouth, Face, Lips or Tongue


An individual may overdose on either the hydrocodone or the acetaminophen component of Lortab. In severe overdose, the patient may stop breathing, suffer a collapse of his circulatory system, have a heart attack or even die.

Symptoms of opioid overdose include:

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Limp muscles
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Low Blood Pressure

Acetaminophen use has been associated with acute liver failure, sometimes resulting in liver transplant and death. Most of these cases involved high doses of acetaminophen, exceeding 4000 mg per day. These patients may have taken multiple medications containing acetaminophen, as it is a common ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter medications.

High doses of acetaminophen may result in adverse reactions such as liver damage, kidney damage, coma and bleeding problems. A person who has taken too much acetaminophen may show early signs of liver damage, such as nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating and general weakness. It may be 48 to 72 hours after the overdose for laboratory tests to detect signs of hepatic toxicity.

Non-Serious Side Effects

Continue taking this medication but contact the prescribing physician if your non-serious side effects become intolerable or if they do not go away on their own. Non-serious side effects associated with Lortab tablets include:

  • Blurred Vision
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mental or Mood Changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Non-serious side effects associated with Lortab liquid include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Serious Side Effects

Some side effects are serious, requiring immediate medical attention. Immediately contact a doctor if you experience serious side effects.

Serious side effects associated with Lortab tablets include:

  • Anxiety
  • Breathing Problems
  • Change in the Amount of Urine
  • Change or Loss in Hearing
  • Changes in Mood or Mental Status
  • Fear
  • Unusual Fatigue

Serious adverse reactions associated with Lortab liquid include:

  • Anxiety
  • Breathing Problems
  • Change in the Amount of Urine
  • Change or Loss in Hearing
  • Changes in Mood or Mental Status
  • Unusual Fatigue

By body system


The side effects associated with the hydrocodone component of Lortab are generally similar to the adverse effects observed with other opioid painkillers. Most patients tolerate therapeutic doses of acetaminophen well.

Central Nervous System

The hydrocodone component of Lortab works with the central nervous system, or CNS, to relieve pain and cause euphoria. CNS side effects associated with Lortab use include drowsiness, mental clouding and decreased mental performance. This medication may also cause neurological side effects including dizziness and lightheadedness.

A person may feel anxious, agitated, depressed, fearful, sad, or experience mood changes. She may also have physical neurological side effects including lethargy, diminished physical performance. Some patients feel stupor, delirium or excessive sleepiness. Anyone can develop psychological dependence to Lortab.


Lortab Elixir may cause heart and circulatory problems, including slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, heart attack and collapse of the circulatory system.


The hydrocodone in Lortab may produce respiratory depression by acting directly on the part of the brain stem responsible for breathing. The severity of respiratory depression may be related to the amount of Lortab taken.


Physical dependence is a side effect of taking Lortab for a long time. Anyone who has used Lortab for more than a few weeks can experience withdrawal symptoms if he stops taking this medication suddenly or takes an inadequate dose. Other medications, such as naloxone, will cause the level of opioids to drop rapidly, resulting in withdrawal symptoms in the opioid-dependent consumer. Withdrawal symptoms include abdominal cramps, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and sweating. The individual may also experience agitation, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia.


Taking Lortab Elixir may result in hypoglycemic coma, which is a coma caused by excessively low blood sugar.


Alcoholic individuals may develop liver damage after even small doses of acetaminophen. Some alcoholic patients experience hepatic side effects including severe and sometimes fatal dose dependent hepatitis. The risk for liver damage increases for a patient who has not eaten.

Several patients receiving long-term acetaminophen therapy develop liver damage, despite a lack of risk factors.

Lortab overdose may cause liver damage. In a recent study of patients admitted for acetaminophen overdose, more than 6 percent had liver damage but recovered. None of the patients in the study died.

Side effects associated with hydrocodone are more likely and more severe in patients with liver disease.


Using Lortab for a long time may cause constipation. Drink six to eight glasses of water each day you take Lortab to reduce constipation.

The opioids in Lortab are commonly associated with side effects affecting the digestive system, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and dry mouth.

Side effects associated with the acetaminophen component of Lortab are rare except in alcoholics and after overdose. Patients rarely experience acute pancreatitis after taking acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen may cause pain in the biliary tract, which includes the liver, gall bladder and ducts connecting the two organs.


Genitourinary side effects associated with Lortab use including spasms in the urinary tract and urinary retention.


The opioids in Lortab may cause rashes. Rashes associated with the acetaminophen in Lortab are rare. Lortab may cause itching.


Acetaminophen rarely causes side effects affecting the kidneys. Most of these cases were associated with overdose, acetaminophen-related liver damage or from chronic abuse, often caused by taking multiple preparations containing acetaminophen.

A patient suffering from kidney failure is more likely to experience side effects associated with the hydrocodone in Lortab. The side effects associated with opioids may be more severe for these patients.


The acetaminophen in Lortab may rarely cause bleeding disorders. Acute Lortab overdose may cause other blood disorders.


Consumers rarely report hypersensitivity to the acetaminophen in Lortab.


Massive acetaminophen overdose may cause metabolic acidosis, a condition where there is too much acid in the blood and body fluids.

Special Senses

Taking Lortab may cause hearing impairment or permanent hearing loss. Hearing problems happen mostly in cases of chronic overdose, in which the level of acetaminophen builds up over time.