Norco is a prescription medication containing hydrocodone -- a narcotic pain reliever -- and acetaminophen. While short-term use of Norco isn't usually associated with weight changes, prolonged use may trigger side effects such as nausea and decreased appetite that result in weight loss. Learning about the relationship between Norco and losing weight allows patients to make the changes necessary to prevent unwanted effects.
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Norco is prescribed primarily as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Hydrocodone -- the main ingredient in Norco -- is sometimes used to treat cough and intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, which causes pain and diarrhea. Because of its potential for abuse, Norco is usually reserved for moderate-to-severe pain that doesn’t respond well to over-the-counter analgesics.
Norco works by attaching to opiate receptors in the central nervous system and altering the brain’s perception of pain. Because it acts on the brain, hydrocodone can cause mood changes, drowsiness and cognitive clouding, according to Rx List. Like other opiates, Norco is a depressant that slows breathing and heart rate. Because opiate receptors are abundant in the digestive tract, constipation is a common result of Norco use. In some cases, constipation may lead to water retention, bloating and weight gain.
Patients taking Norco for prolonged periods sometimes experience weight changes as a secondary effect of the drug. According to Drug Information Online, nausea, upset stomach and appetite loss are common side effects of Norco. These symptoms can make eating difficult, leading to weight loss in some patients. Paradoxically, Norco’s tendency to cause constipation can also lead to bloating and weight gain in some users. E Med TV states that constipation is a common side effect of Norco due to the drug’s paralyzing effect on intestinal muscles. Other possible side effects include dizziness, vomiting and sedation.
Limiting the duration of treatment with Norco is an effective way to prevent weight-related side effects. For long-term Norco users, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help minimize unwanted weight changes. Eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of water is important for preventing the constipation, bloating and weight gain that occur in some patients. Adjusting your daily dose of Norco may help reduce side effects, though this should not be attempted without first talking to your doctor.
Not all patients who take Norco experience weight changes. While weight change of a few pounds can be bothersome, it is usually not dangerous. If you experience rapid or extreme weight loss or gain while taking Norco, tell your doctor promptly to prevent complications.