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Codeine Side Effects

Codeine Side Effects

Like most medicines, codeine can cause mild or moderate side effects which are generally brief and easy to cope with. Codeine side effects do not affect everyone and those that are considered common (affect up to 1 in 10 people) include nausea, sleepiness and dry mouth. In general, serious adverse effects may happen in less than 1 in 100 people. They are more likely to occur in patients with pre-existing health conditions. Do not use this medication if you have:

  • Asthma or respiratory issues: when this medication breaks down quickly in the liver, it can reach higher than usual levels in the body. This can subsequently affect the respiratory system.
  • Sleep apnoea: this is a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
  • A blockage in the intestines or stomach: if you take these painkillers whilst you have bowel problems, the medication could become trapped and accumulate to levels which may cause discomfort and pain.
  • Hypotension: This is commonly referred to as low blood pressure. Codeine 30 mg tablets can reduce blood pressure and when used by patients with hypotension, blood pressure may be lowered to an unsafe level. A normal and healthy blood pressure level is lower than 120/80mmHg, for the average person.
What is Codeine?

Codeine Effects

Although this medication is less addictive than other opiates, it is still highly effective in the treatment of pain. It is generally a safe treatment option and various effects brought on by it include:

  • Sedation: the sedative effects of these tablets are mild to moderate, meaning that the therapeutic will not cause deep sedation. When using these painkillers, you will feel calm, relaxed and void of irritation or agitation.

Clinical trials analysing the prevalence and risks of using sedative medicines were conducted by a small research group on the Canadian population. These results found that the prevalence among the general Canadian population has more than doubled from the period of 1994 to 2003 (Vozoris and Leung, 2011).

  • Drowsiness: Using this medication can make some people feel drowsy. If you experience this effect, it is advisable to avoid engaging in any activities that require mental alertness. The drowsiness brought upon by the therapeutic can be useful at times where you would prefer to sleep, particularly if pain is preventing restful sleep. The perception of pain is altered when using this painkiller and this is a possible reason for the effects of drowsiness.

What is codeine and how does codeine work for pain relief? These are common questions when it comes to the treatment of pain. This medication is a natural opiate that was initially approved for medical use in 1950. It works by blocking pain signals that are communicated from the source of the pain, through the nervous system, to the brain. It has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety associated with pain.

In general, it is safe to take this medication with other painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin. These medications work in different ways in the body compared with opioid analgesics. Therefore, the combination will not potentiate the chance of adverse effects. It is, however, advisable to carefully ensure that other painkillers used simultaneously do not contain any other opioid treatments.

How does Codeine work

Is Codeine Dangerous?

People often buy codeine tablets for the numerous therapeutic benefits this medication has to offer. However, caution is advised, particularly in certain circumstances, to reduce the likelihood of unsafe treatment outcomes:

  • The risk of dependency: if you take these painkillers more than you should, or larger quantities than recommended, your body could become physically dependent on the active ingredient. As your body builds up tolerance to the medicine, you would have to take it on a regular basis to achieve the same effect. Therefore, short-term treatment is generally advisable and at the lowest effective dose.
  • Respiratory depression: when you use a high codeine dosage, for long periods of time, the chances of codeine side effects are increased. These can include slowed breathing and reduced heart rates.
  • Risk of overdose: high dosages of a codeine painkiller could result in overdose. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid exceeding the maximum recommended daily dose of 240 mg.
Codeine Dosage

Codeine Addiction

A 2013 study investigating the prevalence of this pain medication and the abuse thereof was published in 2013. The study was centred around the use of a mixture known as the 'purple drank', which is the combination of cough syrup, hard candy and a soda beverage. This drink is popular amongst younger people and has the potential to become addictive within a short time of use.

'Purple drank' has 0received much media attention. It has become one of the reasons why people buy painkillers in the UK for recreational uses. It is, however, highly unsafe to use this medication for recreational purposes. The risk of dependence is significantly increased when this medication is misused.

Codeine Side Effects

Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

How quickly you develop tolerance to the medication, the severity of codeine side effects and the withdrawal symptoms are all dependent on:

  • Your genetic profile
  • Your need for the therapeutic
  • How much of the medicine you are using
  • How long you have been taking the medication

Some possible withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Feelings of anxiety and irritation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of withdrawal may last for a few short weeks or they may last for longer. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms and codeine side effects can be well managed if usage and dosage guidelines have been carefully followed. The physical symptoms of withdrawal are often the most severe during the first few days. Thereafter, they tend to lessen in severity but the behavioural symptoms can last for months.

Medications may be prescribed to help treat the withdrawal symptoms that are more concerning. Pharmaceutical treatments will depend upon the severity of your symptoms, as these can be classified as mild, moderate or advanced. At the end of treatment, do not stop taking this medication abruptly. Reducing the dose gradually over a few days or weeks is recommended as this can keep the possibility of withdrawal symptoms to a minimum.

As well as the strongest painkillers on the market, we also sell a wide range of strong sleeping pills and anxiety medication at without a prescription! If you have any questions, please contact us for an informative reply. We look forward to helping you with a pain relief option.




Quickly establishing herself as a content writer Sarah found herself drawn to the medical industry – specifically in the field of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT-I), and sleep aids for insomnia. Sarah brings a wealth of experience, expertise and enthusiasm and will no doubt keep our readers absorbed with her insightful and thoughtful blogs written especially for

Stewart Payne – May 16, 2021
Sarah, I am sincerely grateful for the level of detail provided in your blog. I have been struggling with some unwanted side effects and your article cleared this up for me. Stewart Payne

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