Why is this medication prescribed?
Hydromorphone is used to relieve pain. Hydromorphone extended-release tablets are used to relieve severe pain in people who are expected to need pain medication around the clock for a long time and who cannot be treated with other medications. Hydromorphone extended-release tablets should only be used to treat people who are tolerant (used to the effects of the medication) to opioid medications because they have taken this type of medication for at least one week and should not be used to treat mild or moderate pain, short-term pain, pain after an operation or medical or dental procedure, or pain that can be controlled by medication that is taken as needed. Hydromorphone is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. It works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.
How should this medicine be used?
Hydromorphone comes as a liquid, a tablet, and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The liquid is usually taken every 3 to 6 hours and the tablets are usually taken every 4 to 6 hours. The extended-release tablets are taken once daily with or without food. Take hydromorphone at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take hydromorphone exactly as directed.
Do not allow the hydromorphone liquid to touch your skin or clothing. If such contact occurs, remove any clothes exposed to the oral liquid and wash your skin thoroughly with cool water.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose of hydromorphone and gradually increase your dose, not more often than once every 3 to 4 days. Your doctor may decrease your dose if you experience side effects. Tell your doctor if you feel that your pain is not controlled or if you experience side effects during your treatment with hydromorphone. Do not change the dose of your medication without talking to your doctor.
Do not stop taking hydromorphone without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking hydromorphone, you may experience withdrawal symptoms including restlessness, teary eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, hair standing on end, muscle or joint pain, widening of the pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes), irritability, anxiety, backache, weakness, stomach cramps, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fast breathing, or fast heartbeat. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you do not take hydromorphone extended-release tablets for longer than 3 days for any reason, talk to your doctor before you start taking the medication again.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking hydromorphone,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to hydromorphone, any other medications, sulfites, or any of the ingredients in hydromorphone tablets, solution, or extended-release tablets. Ask your pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: buprenorphine (Buprenex, Butrans, in Suboxone, in Zubsolv, others); butorphanol; cyclobenzaprine (Amrix); dextromethorphan (found in many cough medications; in Nuedexta); ipratropium (Atrovent); medications for glaucoma, irritable bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease, ulcers, and urinary problems; lithium (Lithobid); medications for migraine headaches such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, in Treximet), and zolmitriptan (Zomig); mirtazapine (Remeron); nalbuphine; pentazocine (Talwin); 5HT3 serotonin blockers such as alosetron (Lotronex), dolasetron (Anzemet), granisetron (Kytril), ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz), or palonosetron (Aloxi); selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Prozac, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and venlafaxine (Effexor); trazodone (Oleptro); and tricyclic antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as amitriptyline, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil). Also tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or receiving any of the following monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or have stopped taking them within the past 2 weeks: isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), methylene blue, phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). Many other medications may also interact with hydromorphone, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort and tryptophan.
- tell your doctor if you have any of the conditions listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section or paralytic ileus (condition in which food does not move through the intestines), or a blockage in the stomach or intestines. Your doctor may tell you not to take hydromorphone.
- if you will be taking the extended-release tablets, also tell your doctor if you have ever had surgery that caused a change in the way food moves through your stomach or intestines or if you have any condition that cause narrowing of the esophagus (tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach), stomach, or intestines such as cystic fibrosis (a condition that causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that may clog the pancreas, lungs, and other parts of the body), peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen (stomach area), Meckel’s diverticulum (a bulge in the lining of the small intestine that is present at birth), chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (condition in which the muscles in the intestine do not move food smoothly through the intestine), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the lining of the intestine. Your doctor may tell you not to take hydromorphone extended-release tablets.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had low blood pressure;Addison’s disease (condition in which the adrenal gland produces less hormone than normal); seizures; any condition that causes difficulty urinating, such as an enlarged prostate (a male reproductive gland) or urethral stricture (blockage of the tube that allows urine to leave the body); or gallbladder, pancreas, liver, thyroid, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
- you should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men and women. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking hydromorphone.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking hydromorphone.
- you should know that hydromorphone may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- you should know that hydromorphone may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
- you should know that hydromorphone may cause constipation. Talk to your doctor about changing your diet or using other medications to prevent or treat constipation while you are taking hydromorphone.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
If you are taking the tablets or solution, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
If you are taking the extended-release tablets, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take more than one dose of the extended-release tablets in 24 hours.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Hydromorphone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- dry mouth
- heavy sweating
- muscle, back or joint pain
- stomach pain
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, mouth, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- chest pain
- extreme drowsiness
- lightheadedness when changing positions
Hydromorphone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Flush any medication that is outdated or no longer needed down the toilet. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
While you are taking hydromorphone, you may be told to always have a rescue medication called naloxone available (e.g., home, office). Naloxone is used to reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose. It works by blocking the effects of opiates to relieve dangerous symptoms caused by high levels of opiates in the blood. You will probably be unable to treat yourself if you experience an opiate overdose. You should make sure that your family members, caregivers, or the people who spend time with you know how to tell if you are experiencing an overdose, how to use naloxone, and what to do until emergency medical help arrives. Your doctor or pharmacist will show you and your family members how to use the medication. Ask your pharmacist for the instructions or visit the manufacturer’s website to get the instructions. If someone sees that you are experiencing symptoms of an overdose, he or she should give you your first dose of naloxone, call 911 immediately, and stay with you and watch you closely until emergency medical help arrives. Your symptoms may return within a few minutes after you receive naloxone. If your symptoms return, the person should give you another dose of naloxone. Additional doses may be given every 2 to 3 minutes if symptoms return before medical help arrives.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- slowed or stopped breathing
- coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
- muscle weakness
- cold, clammy skin
- narrowing or widening of the pupils (dark circles in the middle of the eyes)
- slowed or stopped the heartbeat
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to hydromorphone.
Before having any laboratory test (especially those that involve methylene blue), tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking hydromorphone.
If you are taking the extended-release tablet and you have any x-ray tests, tell the technician that you are taking this medication.
This prescription is not refillable. If you continue to have pain after you finish the hydromorphone, call your doctor.
If you are taking the extended-release tablets, you may see the tablet shell in your stool. This is normal and does not mean that you did not receive the full dose of medication.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergency