Vicodin is commonly used to treat pain because it enters into your system very quickly. However, if you need to pass a prescription drug test, take other conflicting prescriptions or operate machinery it may be important for you to know how long the drug stays in your system once it has been taken. There are varying answers to this question based on factors involving the size and health of the patient. You will need to gather a bit of information before you can determine how long Vicodin might affect you.
Vicodin is a pain reliever that uses hydrocodone and acetaminophen to relieve pain that is mild to severe. Hydrocodone is a narcotic while acetaminophen is non-narcotic. The latter can be used to treat fever in addition to addressing the pain. The drug is not effective in treating swelling or other aspects of the injury itself; it only dulls the senses so you are not affected by the pain. Vicodin is quite strong and should only be used for extreme cases, rather than everyday use to treat headaches or mild conditions.
While the effects of Vicodin last around 4 hours, traces of the drug can remain in your system for up to 72 hours. In some adults you can still find traces of the drug in your system after 5 days. A person's weight, diet, age and level of body fat will contribute to how quickly your body is able to process and rid itself of the drug. In general, the higher your metabolism rate, the sooner traces of the drug will be eliminated. The higher your dosage, the more likely it is that traces will remain in your body for a longer period of time.
While you may not see traces of Vicodin specifically after a long period of time, the individual components of the drug may show up in examinations after the fact. Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3-4 hours, so it can take over a day before it is completely broken down and exits the bloodstream. Acetaminophen has a much shorter half-life at 2-3 hours. In many cases, individual tests will be run for each of these drugs to ensure that they are not building up to toxic levels in your system. Even though the effects of each portion of your medication only last 4-8 hours, the trace amounts in your bloodstream will affect your ability to take other medications or overdose, so you will need to act accordingly.
If you will be taking an examination to test for prescription drugs, you will need to be conscious of how long it will take for your body to clear signs of your Vicodin usage. Urine examinations can still detect Vicodin in the system after 72 hours. Saliva tests have a much shorter range, only being able to detect the drug up to 6-12 hours after it has been consumed. Hair follicle tests are the most comprehensive form of drug testing. These examinations can detect Vicodin usage up to 3-4 months after you consumed the product.
Many people who take Vicodin report having cases of nausea, constipation, upset stomach or vomiting. This is not especially common and usually does not prohibit the patient from continuing their prescription. Cases of digestive discomfort usually subside throughout the course of the prescription. Taking the prescription with food may also help reduce these symptoms.
Other common side effects include drowsiness, reduced pulse rate or altered mental status. These may include dizziness or light headedness as well. These symptoms also become less common as your body becomes used to the medication. Do not operate machinery or attempt to perform tasks that involve a great deal of focus while on Vicodin, especially if you are unsure of how the prescription will affect you. If your pulse rate appears to be dropping to a dangerous level then seek out medical attention.
In rare but serious cases Vicodin has led to severe side effects including mood changes, irrational fear, seizure, fainting, shallow breathing, hot flashes, difficulty waking, difficulty breathing and hallucinations. These could be signs of an overdose or allergic reactions. If at any point these symptoms appear to be life threatening, seek medical attention immediately. This is especially important if it starts becoming difficult to breathe or you begin to lose consciousness.
It should also be noted that Vicodin has a history of dependency in patients. If you have previously had issues with becoming dependent on a painkiller then you may want to work with a doctor to determine the most appropriate dose for your medication. Have a family member or friend monitor your usage and watch for signs of dependency or withdrawal so you can get medical attention if your use begins to spiral out of control. Never take more than your allotted dose of Vicodin to help avoid these symptoms from developing. These include watery eyes, runny nose, vomiting, restlessness, headaches, muscle aches, insomnia and anxiety.