The primary reason for a doctor to prescribe a cough medicine with hydrocodone is to alleviate the chronic coughing that can accompany lung cancer. Athough hydrocodone is a narcotic with significant adverse effects---and even potential for abuse---it is a valuable tool for improving quality of life. Hydrocodone is not to be used for all coughs, however. If a cough is due to chronic bronchitis or an infection, there are more effective prescriptions, according to the journal "Chest."
Hydrocodone is a schedule C-III narcotic substance. It is a synthetic opiate that acts on the central nervous system in the same way as its naturally occurring family members, codeine and morphine. Hydrocodone is almost always used in combination with other medications. It works with acetominophen in the pain drug vicodin, and it is combined with different ingredients to help with coughs. The amount needed to suppress coughing is below the threshold of its pain-relieving effects, according to an MDconsult.com monograph.
Tussionex, Novasus, Tussicaps, Hytan and S-T Forte 2
Tussionex, Novasus, Tussicaps, Hytan and S-T Forte are five brands of cough medicine that combine hydrocodone with the antihistamine compound chlorpheniramine. Like hydrocodone, chlorpheniramine acts on the central nervous system. Instead of blocking opioid receptors, this compound blocks hitamine receptors. Stopping the release of histamine in the body dries up nasal and sinus passages and is generally sedating. Since chlorpheniramine and hydrocodone both have sedative effects, these medicines should not be taken before or during activities that require alertness.
Hycodan and Tussigon
Hycodan and Tussigon are a combination of hydrocodone and a substance called homatropine. The homatropine was included in these medicines to try to prevent the dangerous effects of a hydrocodone overdose. Hydrocodone, like other opioids, can create respiratory depression to the point of death if taken in excess. The homatropine can block this effect.
Although this strategy makes sense, this class of drugs is no longer available in the United States, and a person is unlikely to encounter these medicines. Therefore, when taking a cough medicine with hydrocodone, it is imperative to pay strict attention to the dosing instructions.
- MDConsult hydrocodone monograph
- "Chest: Chronic Cough Due To Lung Tumors: ACCP Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines"; P.A. Kvale; January 2006
- "Chest: Cough Suppressant and Pharmacologic Protussive Therapy: ACCP Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines"; D.C. Bolser; January 2006
- American Family Physician: "Treatment of the Common Cold"; M. Simasek and D.A. Blandino; February 2007