Lortab is a controlled substance, meaning it’s available only by prescription in the U.S. and it contains a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

The following provides an overview of what Lortab is and how it works, as well as details on what are called Lortab tens, which refers to a specific strength of this medicine.

What Is Lortab?

Lortab, as mentioned, is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. Since it is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, it can take care of pain in two different ways.

Hydrocodone is an opioid. Opioids are a class of drugs that relieve pain by passing the blood-brain barrier and attaching to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. When this happens, the drug slows operations of the central nervous system, including respiration, but can also provide pain relief, relaxation and sedation.

As with other opioids, hydrocodone can also create a sense of euphoria or well-being when it’s taken, particularly in higher doses, and this is one of the reasons it has a potential for addiction and abuse. Opioids combat pain by releasing dopamine, which is a feel-good brain chemical, and once that happens, the brain wants to continue seeking out the substance that led to that.

When a person takes opioids exactly as directed, there is a reduced potential for addiction, but it is still a risk.

The acetaminophen in Lortab, which is also the same as brand-name Tylenol, is added to increase the strength and effectiveness. Rather than altering how someone perceives pain, as is what happens with oxycodone, acetaminophen alters pain signals, so it’s like a dual effect to combat pain. That’s one of the reasons combination drugs such as Lortab are so widely prescribed.

Lortab is available in a liquid, frequently referred to as Lortab elixir.

The Risks of Lortab

When taking Lortab, it’s critical that a person follows the instructions for a few different reasons. First, there is the risk of addiction that comes with the use of any opioid. There’s also the risk of an opioid overdose.

Related Topic: Hydrocodone overdose

Since opioids like hydrocodone slow the central nervous system, they can slow breathing to the point that a person slips into a coma or dies.

There’s also a third level of risk with Lortab, and that’s what comes with the use of acetaminophen. This component of Lortab isn’t addictive, but it can lead to severe liver damage. Some of the risks of liver damage from the use of acetaminophen include taking too much in a 24-hour period or drinking alcohol while using Lortab.

Lortab Tens

People frequently have questions on the strength and dosage guidelines for Lortab.

There are a few strengths of Lortab available. They include Lortab 2.5/500, Lortab 5/500, Lortab 7.5/500 and Lortab 10/500. The first number in each of these strengths refers to the amount of hydrocodone, while the second refers to the amount of acetaminophen. The same amount of varying hydrocodone strengths is also available with 325 mg of acetaminophen, so this would be 10/325 as an example.

It’s important to pay attention to both numbers when looking at the strength and dosage instructions. For example, Lortab tens are the strongest, particularly Lortab 10/500, which has more hydrocodone and more acetaminophen.

With the lower doses such as 5/325, adults are usually advised to take one or two tablets every four to six hours without exceeding 12 tablets in 24 hours. As this goes up to 7.5 mg strengths and Lortab tens, the dose is usually one tablet every four to six hours, with no more than six tablets in a 24-hour period. This may be even lower with Lortab tens that have the higher amount of acetaminophen because of the risks of liver damage.

The side effects of Lortab tens may be more pronounced than with lower-strength doses. In general, side effects of Lortab tens and other strengths of Lortab can include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, drowsiness or sedation.

More serious potential risks of Lortab tens include mood or mental changes, loss of appetite, fainting, shallow breathing or seizures.

People are warned to tell their doctor if they have a history of brain disorders, breathing problems, kidney or liver problems, or mental and mood disorders. They should also let their doctor know if they have a history of abuse of drugs or alcohol, or if they have a family history of addiction. The risk for addiction and dependence on Lortab, particularly high-strength doses like Lortab tens.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Yuliya Sagan
Yulia is a cell and molecular biologist with expertise using embryonic stem cell models, 3D human tissue models, and animal models to investigate different human disease phenotypes including impaired wound healing, cardiovascular disease, and cancer metastasis. Read more
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.