Because there are so many prescription pain medicines available, people often have questions about them. One commonly prescribed pain medicine is called Lortab. The Lortab brand name and the generic versions contain hydrocodone bitartrate, which is made from codeine and acetaminophen.

What Is Lortab Used For?

Lortab is pain medicine. Because of the hydrocodone, it can also be used for treating coughs. Lortab is often used for the treatment of pain ranging from moderate to moderately severe, usually for short-term pain. Such pain can include pain resulting from surgery, an injury or a dental procedure.

In some less common circumstances, Lortab may also be used for the treatment of chronic pain, cancer pain, recurring pain or migraines.

There are some people who should not use Lortab, and these people include:

  • People with breathing problems or asthma
  • People with a condition called paralytic ileus, which is a bowel obstruction
  • Anyone with a history of abusing drugs or alcohol or addiction problems

Before taking Lortab, people should alert their doctor if they previously experienced mental illness, a history of head injuries or seizures, liver or kidney disease, a blockage in the stomach or intestines or if they use a sedative or benzodiazepine medication.

One of the biggest aspects to keep in mind when researching what is Lortab used for is the fact that as with other narcotic opioids, it suppresses the central nervous system and respiration. This quality means that people who have a history of breathing problems, or who are older or debilitated may have severe side effects related to breathing.

There is not enough research to determine whether Lortab is safe to take during pregnancy. However, it is known that when women use opioids like hydrocodone when pregnant, the baby can be born dependent on the drug and go through withdrawal.

How Does Lortab Work?

Since Lortab is an opioid, it binds to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. When someone takes Lortab, the opioid component of the medicine passes the blood-brain barrier and then triggers the release of dopamine.

With the addition of the acetaminophen to block pain signals, Lortab and other combination medicines like it are very effective for treating pain.

Unfortunately, there is also the risk of addiction and dependence, so what Lortab is used for should be limited and carefully weighed by physicians. All opioids have a risk of addiction and dependence, even when they’re taken as prescribed. Some people start abusing them after they’re prescribed these drugs, and others never have a prescription and only use them recreationally.

You can reduce your risk of abuse or addiction by following your prescription, and it’s critical never to take more than what you’re directed to by your doctor or take it more often than you are supposed to.

Along with the risk of addiction, since Lortab contains acetaminophen, it can cause liver damage when you take too much.

Some of the general side effects, regardless of what Lortab is used for, include nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, anxiety, mood changes, lightheadedness, problems urinating, itching and rash. More severe side effects include tightening of the chest and slowed or irregular breathing.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

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.