Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
What is Norco and what are the Norco side effects?
Although not marketed as Tylenol until the 1950s, did you know that the history of acetaminophen dates as far back as the 1880’s?
That well-known pain-relieving drug can be combined with more potent painkillers to treat everything from mild pain to insomnia. Norco is the brand name version of one of those combinations.
This powerful drug carries a number of risks you should be aware of. Like many painkillers, it carries the risk of abuse and overdose.
To learn more about Norco, what it does, and the risks it carries, read this in-depth guide.
What is Norco?
Norco is brand name pain medication that first came to market in 1997. An FDA approved prescription, it’s manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals as Norco but also goes by the names Vicodin, Lorcet, and Lortab. These prescriptions all contain a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
Acetaminophen is more commonly known as Tylenol or Pericitemol. This non-opioid pain reliever can also reduce fever.
Hydrocodone is an opioid. This narcotic pain reliever works in the same way as oxycodone, morphine, and even heroin. It changes how your brain chemistry to reduce feelings of and responses to pain.
Norco is typically prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief. But it’s also been used to treat coughs and sleep disorders like insomnia.
Common Norco Side Effects
The most common Norco side effects include:
- drowsiness or fatigue
Norco can also cause constipation. This can be counteracted by introducing more fiber into your diet, drinking an adequate amount of water, and getting physical exercise. You might also consider a laxative recommended by your pharmacist or doctor.
Severe Norco Side Effects
There are very severe side effects associated with Norco. These include:
- respiratory problems (i.e. difficulty breathing, decreased breathing)
- slowed heartbeat
- feeling faint or lightheaded
- anxiety, fear, or depression
- mood imbalance
- unusual thoughts
- rash or redness on the skin
If you experience hives or swelling, these could be signs of an allergic reaction to Norco.
Other serious side effects and risks of Norco include liver damage, the potential for abuse, and more. We’ll discuss each of these in more detail below.
The FDA mandates that drugs containing acetaminophen have a black box warning label. This label warns consumers of the potential for serious liver damage caused by the over-use of acetaminophen.
Signs of liver damage include upper abdominal pain, itching, little appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and yellowing in the eyes and skin. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
The FDA doesn’t have enough evidence to determine whether Norco harms a developing fetus. But we do know some of the risks associated with taking Norco while pregnant.
Norco may cause respiratory problems that put a woman at greater risk of harm during pregnancy. Because hydrocodone is an addictive substance, taking Norco while pregnant can also cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies.
Norco is classified as a Schedule II substance in the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II substances are those that have a high risk of abuse and high potential for harm.
Because hydrocodone is a narcotic painkiller, it’s a highly addictive substance. Users become addicted to the sense of euphoria that Norco induces. Increasing that potential for abuse is the fact that Norco is easy to access and inexpensive.
Getting off of Norco also carries risks. If you’ve been abusing Norco, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if and when you quit cold turkey.
These symptoms range from a runny nose and diarrhea to vomiting, nausea, and agitation. In many cases, withdrawing from Norco requires medical assistance and support. This ensures the patient can detox safely.
Signs of overdosing on Norco include:
- slowed breathing
- slowed heart rate
- extreme drowsiness (includes stupor and/or coma)
- cold or damp skin
- flaccid muscles
- extremely low blood pressure
Overdoing on Norco can be fatal. If you or a loved one is exhibiting these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Norco interacts with prescription medications and non-prescription treatments alike. If you’re taking herbal remedies, supplements, illegal, or recreational drugs, Norco can negatively interact with these substances and increase the risk of overdose.
Prescription medications that Norco interacts with include:
- muscle relaxers
- anxiety and/or depression medications
- antiseizure medications
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol
- narcotic antagonists
Norco should never be mixed with alcohol. It can increase the risk of liver damage and also induce or intensify dizziness.
You should not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking acetaminophen/hydrocodone.
Talk To Your Doctor
Always talk to your doctor about the medication you’re taking. They’ll help you understand the risks involved.
Tell your doctor about any allergies you have. Different medications contain different active and inactive ingredients that may cause severe allergic reactions. Your risk is higher if you’re allergic to other narcotics such as codeine or morphine.
Because the risk of abuse is so high, you should also share with your doctor if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. If you’ve struggled with addiction in the past, Norco may not be a good option for you.
Individuals who have brain disorders or who have suffered brain injuries shouldn’t take Norco. The effects on the respiratory system are especially dangerous for these people. It may also have an effect on people with CPD, sleep apnea, and asthma.
Are You Abusing Your Pain Medication?
What is Norco? It’s a combination of opioid and non-opioid painkillers most commonly used to treat mild to severe pain. But it’s also a highly addictive pain medication with the potential for abuse and overdose.
Beyond severe side effects such as respiratory dysfunction and liver damage, Norco carries the very real possibility of addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, contact us to find out how we can help.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.