Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Difference between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Oxycodone VS Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are potent prescription pain drugs. Both these drugs can treat short-term pain caused by surgery and injury. They can also be used for treating chronic pain and prolonged pain. Additionally, every medication may also be prescribed for treating other conditions, such as pain due to cancer, chronic cough, or arthritis.

Both these drugs can be taken alone, or you may also find combination versions of each drug. For instance, acetaminophen, another type of pain medicine, may be added to Oxycodone to make specific narcotic analgesics. These types of combination medications can calm an individual’s mood, which gives the painkiller some time to work.

On the other hand, Hydrocodone is often combined with antihistamines to create a syrup that helps to suppress the cough reflexes and provides relief from the pain associated with coughing.

Prescription-based opioid drugs can be very effective in relieving pain. But unfortunately, such medicines are also addictive and have a high risk of abuse. They may also have the tendency to interact with certain drugs.

This blog will provide you with information on Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, such as how to take these medicines and their side effects and risks associated with them. We may also discuss some alternative treatment options.

What are Oxycodone and Hydrocodone?

A medical professional may prescribe either Hydrocodone or Oxycodone for an individual who experiences moderate to severe pain. These individuals may include people who have cancer, injuries, chronic pain, and those who are recovering from surgery.

Both these medicines are available in extended-release forms, which are suitable for an individual who has taken opioids for at least a week and has pain that requires treatment on an ongoing basis.

Opioids drugs can interact with other medicines and are also highly addictive. As such, they are not suitable for an individual.

People should avoid taking these medicines that may interact with an opioid drug.


Oxycodone is used for treating moderate to severe pain. An individual who takes the drug usually does so around the clock until a medical professional end their prescriptions or recommends stopping it. In simple terms, Oxycodone should not be taken on a needed basis the way you would take over-the-counter pain medicines.


Hydrocodone is also used for treating moderate to severe pain caused due to chronic conditions, surgery, and injury. Like Oxycodone, it should only be taken exactly as prescribed by a medical professional. It is due to the risk of addiction. Perhaps because it is specified, Hydrocodone appears more likely to cause addiction than Oxycodone. It is misused more than any other opioid in the USA. In many European countries, Hydrocodone has been highly restricted for many years.

Which class of drugs do Hydrocodone and Oxycodone belong to?

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone both the drugs belong to the family of medications known as opioid analgesics. These drugs work by affecting how the central nervous system and brain process pain signals.

Opioid analgesics belong to Schedule II controlled drugs, which means that they are medically helpful but also have a high risk of abuse. As such, they are strictly available via prescription only.

Until the fall of 2014, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone belonged to two different drug schedules. A drug schedule is a number that is assigned to a drug, substance, and chemical. The schedule number indicates the likelihood the drug could be misused and the medicine’s accepted medical use.

But, now, both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are schedule II drugs. Schedule II medicines have a high risk of being misused.

How can you take them?

An individual should always take Hydrocodone and Oxycodone according to the prescription of your health care professional. These drugs are available in several forms, such as:

  • concentrated liquids
  • liquids
  • extended-release capsules
  • extended-release tablets

Both these medicines are also available in combination with other painkillers, such as:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen

An individual usually takes an extended-release Oxycodone every 12 hours with a meal. In contrast, they may usually take an extended-release Hydrocodone once a day, at about the same time every day.

Before taking it, you should not crush, chew, soak, or tamper with an extended-release tablet. It is necessary to follow the guidelines of your health care professional when you stop taking an opioid drug.

These drugs are highly addictive; discontinuing them abruptly can result in withdrawal symptoms.

How effective are Hydrocodone and Oxycodone?

Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are potent painkillers, and they have been shown to be highly effective at treating pain. In the event of an emergency situation, experts found that these two drugs treat pain equally. In a study on both medicines, experts found that Hydrocodone and Oxycodone were similarly effective in treating pain caused due to fractures. People experienced equal pain relief 30 and 60 minutes after the drug was taken.

However, people who were given Hydrocodone experienced constipation more frequently than people who used Oxycodone. Another research found that the combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen was 1.5 times more potent than hydrocodone with acetaminophen when taken at equal doses.

Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are effective in reducing pain sensations. However, they may not address the underlying cause of the ache. Due to the risk of addiction and dependence, many experts recommend exploring other options of taking opioid pain medicines.

What are the side effects of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone?

Both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone can cause many side effects. Some can be a bit severe. Some possible side effects of these drugs include:

  • dry mouth
  • sweating
  • severe breathing problem
  • constipation
  • itching
  • dizziness
  • vomiting and nausea
  • confusion
  • reduced sex drive
  • fatigue

Researchers have shown that a combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen is more likely than Hydrocodone and acetaminophen to induce dizziness and nausea.

Some severe though less common side effects may include:

  • confusion
  • painful urination
  • feeling like you may pass out
  • seizures
  • rapid heartbeat

Oxycodone is more likely to cause side effects of drowsiness and dizziness and headache, feelings of euphoria, and fatigue. On the other hand, Hydrocodone is more likely to cause stomach pain and constipation.

Are Oxycodone and Hydrocodone addictive?

Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone can result in addiction and dependency, especially if an individual takes either medicine at a heavy dose or for an extended-term. Over time, an individual may develop a tolerance to Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. In an effort to sustain their pain relief, they may start taking medicine more frequently or take it in a heavy dose than recommended.

Abuse of opioid drugs is a significant public health issue. The experts report that one in four people who receive prolonged opioid treatment in a primary care setting experience opioid addiction. To reduce the potential for substance abuse, individuals will need to work closely with their medical professionals to review their opioid dosage and overall treatment plan regularly.

What drugs can interact with Hydrocodone and Oxycodone?

Oxycodone and Hydrocodone can interact with many different medicines, such as some medicines belong to the following groups:

  • antifungals
  • antibiotics
  • muscle relaxers
  • sedatives
  • anxiety medications
  • antivirals

Opioid pain drugs also interact with alcohol, recreational drugs, and certain supplements. To avoid the risk of drug interaction, an individual should provide their medical professional with detailed information about all the prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications that they are using.

People should also avoid drinking alcohol and recreational medicines while taking either Hydrocodone or Oxycodone.

Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are potent opioid drugs. A medical professional may recommend you such drugs to relieve mild to severe pain. There is very little difference between these drugs in terms of costs and effectiveness.

As opioid medications, both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone carry considerable risks for addiction and dependence. These risks can increase due to the long-term use and heavy doses, and Many medical professionals recommend trying other pain killers options before considering opioids.

Many other alternative and pain treatment options are available, such as non-opioid prescription drugs, complementary therapies, and mind-body pain management techniques. An individual can talk to their health care professional about the other treatment options that are more likely to work for them.

There is very little difference between the costs of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. Generic versions of both medicine are available, and these are generally cheaper than the brand drugs.

Some private health insurance plans may cover the costs of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, as well as offer recommendations for safe use.

Which medicine is best for you?

Both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are effective at reducing acute and chronic pain. They both can cause very similar side effects. The main difference between these two medicines is minimal, so the best way to select which medicine is best for you is by having a conversation with your health care provider.

Based on your medical history, your medical professional can weigh the pros and cons of these two drugs. Some experts and professionals have found that Hydrocodone is less powerful in comparison to Oxycodone. In such cases, your medical professional may refer you to begin your treatment on the lowest possible dose to see how your body handles the medications.

If your first option is not entirely adequate, does not work well, or causes adverse effects, you and your health care professional can talk about changing the drugs and doses to find something that works best for you.

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