What Are the Most Common Vicodin Side Effects?

Vicodin is a brand-name medication that combines a powerful therapeutic opioid — hydrocodone — with the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen. Use of this medication can potentially lead to a range of mild, moderate and severe side effects. The most common of these effects are well-known.

Mild to Moderate Side Effects

Any medication that contains hydrocodone and a secondary ingredient can produce a number of mild to moderate side effects.  These effects are only considered serious if they fail to resolve or take an unusually severe form. The most likely Vicodin side effects include:

  • Unusually slow bowels (constipation)
  • Dizziness
  • An unusually anxious mood
  • Unexplained happiness or sadness
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Urination problems
  • Loss of clear-headedness
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin rash
  • Narrowed pupils
  • Throat dryness

Serious Side Effects

Some Vicodin side effects warrant immediate attention from a doctor when they appear in any form, even for a little while. Things to look for in this category include:

  • Unusually slow or unsteady breathing
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Extremely stiff muscles
  • Muscles that twitch severely
  • An inability to coordinate your body movements
  • Fever and shivering
  • Diarrhea
  • Mental confusion or agitation
  • Sensory hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • General weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Menstrual irregularities in women
  • Lowered sexual desire in men or women

If you take excessively large doses of Vicodin, you could also potentially expose yourself to serious side effects related specifically to the consumption of acetaminophen. The most common of these effects includes:

  • Problems swallowing or breathing
  • A hoarse throat
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin rash
  • Skins that reddens, blisters or peels without explanation
  • Hives
  • Swelling that affects your lower extremities, your hands or any part of your face or throat

Addiction and Overdose Risks

If you take more Vicodin than your doctor directs, or use the medication without a prescription, you steeply increase your chances of experiencing two other major side effects: diagnosable opioid abuse/addiction and opioid overdose. Millions of Americans have abuse/addiction problems related to the intake of Vicodin or some other opioid medication. In addition, more people die from opioid medication overdoses than from any form of illegal drug overdose.


U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Hydrocodone Combination Products https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601006.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Acetaminophen https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681004.html

National Institute on Drug Abuse: DrugFacts – Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications

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