Hydrocodone is an opioid drug used for pain relief. There are many different types of opioids available, and they all serve the same purpose: blocking pain. However, this pain relief can come at a high cost. Opioids work on the nervous system, and when you start impacting that system, there is a trickle-down effect to other systems, including the GI tract.
Hydrocodone has a powerful impact on the digestive system. Dry mouth, constipation, and gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) are side effects of hydrocodone.
I read an interesting study on hydrocodone that reported this drug paralyzes regions of the small intestine, particularly the middle of the jejunum (the middle section of the small bowel). Hydrocodone slows the movement of stool through the middle of the jejunum. Hydrocodone also decreases the urge to defecate, which further slows the passage of stool through the GI system.
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It makes me wonder why anyone would want to take this medication. I can understand taking painkillers in the immediate aftermath of surgery, but I don’t understand taking hydrocodone chronically. It is crucial not to use opioids to manage personal or emotional issues.
The amount of time I spend in the clinic pointing out the side effects of opioids is astonishing. Many people take hydrocodone for the long-term without making the connection between the drugs and side effects like GI dysfunction.
Like any narcotic, hydrocodone must be used very cautiously. If you are using this drug, my suggestion is that you go see your primary healthcare provider. If at all possible, you’ll want to find a way to get off this medication. The opioid crisis in America is costing a lot of lives, don’t let it ruin yours.