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How can I minimize the side effects of Vicodin?

You can avoid or reduce side effects while taking the prescription pain medication Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) by using it exactly as your doctor prescribes. Don't take more of it, or take it more often, than recommended.

Vicodin can interact with a number of medications, increasing your risk of side effects. Before you start taking it, give your doctor a list of all your other medications (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements and other remedies. It's particularly important not to get acetaminophen from other medications without realizing it, because excess amounts of this drug can cause serious liver damage. You should take no more than 4,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per day. Check drug labels (they sometimes refer to acetaminophen as "APAP").

If Vicodin is making you drowsy, ask your doctor if it's okay for you to take a mild stimulant, such as caffeine. Vicodin can also make you constipated; eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly bran, may make it easier to move your bowels. You can also ask your doctor about taking a laxative and/or stool softener.

If you've been using Vicodin for several weeks or longer, don't stop taking it before talking with your doctor. He or she may gradually lower your dose so that you don't experience withdrawal symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.