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What is a Hydromorphone?

  • Hydromorphone is a prescription drug for oral intake that is also available with the brand name Dilaudid (immediate-release). These capsules are also available in the form of generic medications. It helps treat severe pain that is not under control by other medicines. 
  • Hydromorphone comes in three forms: injectable solution, oral liquid solution, and high-potency injectable solution. Your medical healthcare provider will provide you with the injection. It may reduce pain by acting on specific opioid receptors in the spinal cord and the brain, which consists of your central nervous system. 

Important Information

  • Hydromorphone can also make your breathing shallow like other narcotic drugs. If the breathing becomes too weak, death may occur. Older adults, malnourished, and sick people are more likely to suffer from breathing problems due to hydromorphone use. 
  • If you take opioid medication during pregnancy, you could give birth to a drug-dependent baby. It can cause fatal withdrawal symptoms in the baby after its inception. Babies born dependent on opioids like Hydromorphone may need treatment for several weeks.
  • Do not breastfeed while taking Hydromorphone because the drug can pass into breast milk and cause breathing problems or drowsiness in a nursing baby. 

What to know before taking Hydromorphone?

Before taking it, tell each medical healthcare provider if you are allergic to it or other opioid medication such as hydrocodone, morphine, or any other allergy. It may contain inactive ingredients like sulfites or latex, which can cause allergic reactions or other issues. 

Before using this medication, tell your medical healthcare professional about your medical history, especially of:

  • Stomach or intestinal problems such as constipation, blockage, paralytic ileus, diarrhea due to infection;
  • Brain disorders such as a tumor, brain injury, seizures, increased intracranial pressure;
  • Breathing problems like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, sleep apnea, asthma;
  • Heart problems such as CHF, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure;
  • Pancreatitis, gallbladder disease;
  • Mental disorders or mood changes causing depression or psychosis;
  • Liver or kidney disease;
  • History of substance use disorder;
  • The difficulty usually urinating due to urethral stricture or enlarged prostate;
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid); or
  • Addison’s disease (adrenal gland issue)

How to take a Hydromorphone?

  • Take Hydromorphone precisely as per the doctor’s recommendation. Never share opioids with someone else, especially someone with a past of drug abuse, overuse, or addiction. Misuse of Hydromorphone can cause overdose, addiction, or death. 
  • Stop taking all the usual narcotics when you start using Hydromorphone. Swallow the whole capsule rather than crushing, chewing, breaking, dissolving, or opening it to avoid exposure to a potentially dangerous overdose. 
  • Never break or crush a hydromorphone capsule to dissolve it into a liquid or inhale it or inject it into your vein. It can cause death. Carefully measure the liquid medicine. Use the available dosing syringe or a medicine dose-measuring device rather than a kitchen spoon.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking Hydromorphone, or you could face unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Take your doctor’s help to stop using this drug safely. Store hydromorphone away from heat and moisture at room temperature. Throw away any unused liquid medicine after 90 days.

Hydromorphone dosage

Your hydromorphone dosage will depend upon your age, medical condition, the form of Hydromorphone you take, other medical issues you have, type and severity of your medical condition, reaction to the initial treatment.

Usual adult dosage of Hydromorphone HCL for severe pain:

  • Oral pills- 2 mg to 4 mg orally within every 4 to 6 hours as needed
  • Oral liquid- 2.5 mg to 10 mg orally within every 3 to 6 hours as needed
  • Extended-release- for those who are opioid-tolerant

This medication is not under the recommendation for use by anyone younger than 18 years.

Overdose

If you overdose on Hydromorphone, take urgent medical help or call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. A hydromorphone overdose can be deadly, especially in a child or someone taking it without any prescription. Overdose symptoms may include severe drowsiness, slow heart rate, cold and clammy skin, muscle weakness, prolonged breathing, pinpoint pupils, or coma.

What to avoid while using Hydromorphone?

  • Avoid alcohol consumption because dangerous side effects or death may occur due to a combination of alcohol with Hydromorphone. 
  • Hydromorphone may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving any vehicle or operating any heavy machinery until you know the effect of this medicine on yourself. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can lead to accidental falls or severe injuries. 

Hydromorphone side effects

Hydromorphone may cause mild or severe side effects. The most common side effects of this drug may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing (warming and reddening of your skin); or
  • Euphoria (feel-good effect)

Severe side effects of Hydromorphone may include:

  • Heart problems including faster pulse, chest pain, rapid or very slow heart rate;
  • Eye or vision changes including double vision, trouble seeing or blurry eyes, small pinpoint pupils;
  • Stomach problems including stomach pain, constipation, bowel blockage with nausea, vomiting, and inability to pass gas or stool;
  • Nervous system and muscle issues including tremors, headache, unusual and involuntary movement of eyes, strange prickling sensation on the skin;
  • Mood or behavior changes such as agitation, anxiety, nervousness, hallucinations, depression, trouble sleeping, disorientation, strange dreams
  • Blood pressure fluctuation with flushing;
  • Insufficient functioning of adrenal glands including muscle weakness, long-lasting tiredness, pain in your abdomen;
  • Androgen deficiency causing trouble sleeping, fatigue, decreased energy;
  • Extreme drowsiness; or
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

What drugs can interact with Hydromorphone?

Opioids can interact with various other drugs and lead to dangerous side effects or death. Ensure that your doctor knows if you use:

  • Other narcotic medications like prescription cough medicine 
  • A sedative like Valium- Xanax, alprazolam, Versed, Klonopin, lorazepam, diazepam, and others;
  • Any drug that causes sleepiness or slows down your breathing- a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, any treatment for mental illness or mood disorders; or
  • Medicines that may affect the serotonin levels in the body

It is not a complete list, and various other drugs may interact with Hydromorphone, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, herbal products, and vitamins.