Hydrocodone/acetaminophen, or hydrocodone APAP, is an opioid pain medication prescribed for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain, according to WebMD. The medication contains both hydrocodone, which is a narcotic pain reliever, and acetaminophen, which is a non-narcotic pain reliever.
Hydrocodone works by blocking the receptors on the brain’s nerve cells that sense pain, according to MedicineNet. Acetaminophen elevates the body’s pain threshold, so the body requires a greater amount of stimulation of the nerves that sense pain for pain perception to occur. Manufacturers sell hydrocodone APAP under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Norco, Stagesic and Maxidone, among others.
The side effects of hydrocodone/acetaminophen include vomiting, nausea, sedation, dizziness and lightheadedness, according to MedicineNet. Physical abilities and thought processes may be impaired during use, affecting the user’s ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery. The potential for dependency of this medication is unlikely when used for short-term relief of pain, but dependency issues are not unheard of with long-term use.
Hydrocodone is only available by prescription, notes MedicineNet. Generic versions of the drug are available. The dosage range of acetaminophen ranges from 300 to 750 milligrams, while the hydrocodone dosage range is from 2.5 to 10 milligrams. Manufacturers make hydrocodone in capsule, tablet and liquid form.