Hydrocodone & Fall Risks

Q:

Would hydrocodone cause balance problems causing falls.? I was on 5 mil of oxycodone for several years, and I switched to 7.5 of hydrocodone 5 months ago . I have DDD and ATN. I should have fallen about 6 times in last 3 months. I am 74. Thank you.

A:

A short answer is Yes.

Both hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioids for pain relief. Opioids control the perception of pain and calm emotional responses to pain by reducing the number of pain signals sent by the nervous system. Opioids are very effective at first, as time goes on they turn less effective. And people need to take more.

Many elders suffer chronic pain from degenerative disc disease, arthritis or other diseases. Elders don’t metabolize drugs as well as the younger people, which means drugs stay in their body longer, and lead to a higher risk of falls.

In your case, I think you mean you had acute tubular necrosis (ATN).  ATN is an acute kidney disease, but the tubular cells have the capacity to replace themselves, so it’s reversible. When you recovered, ATN should no longer be a bother to you. 

There’re a few important things to notice when taking hydrocodone.

  1. Combining alcohol with hydrocodone/oxycodone is dangerous.
  2. Do not crush, break, or open an extended-release pill. Swallow it whole to avoid exposure to a potentially fatal dose.
  3. If you missed a dose, skip it, do not use extra to make up for the missed one.
  4. Some medicines including herbs may interact with hydrocodone and cause serotonin syndrome, leading to shivering, diarrhea, loss of muscle coordination(leading to falls), or even severe life-threating problems.

I would suggest that you let your doctor know about the falls and may need to adjust the medication.

 

Additionally, regarding degenerative disc disease (DDD), majority of patients feel less pain by the time they’re in 60s, because discs have dried out to the point that they cause less pain.

 

 

 

 

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.