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Given vicodin to kill pain from minor surgery on tongue. Alternately given codeine pills. What are the side effects?

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Hi there. I'm actually asking a question on behalf of my mom. She is 70 and in pretty good health. My concern in about future care. Recently she had a minor procedure on her tongue, which required Vicodin to kill the pain. Unfortunately just a couple pills made her violently ill.
As an alternative I offered her my own leftover codeine pills that I bought over-the-counter while in Canada, but she knew from past experience that these would produce the same side-effects.

When and if she requires major surgery or needs pain relief later in life, will there be an alternative to these meds to alleviate pain? From what I know, all pain killers except for acetaminophen are opiate based. Are some concoctions like morphine, or oxycotin less likely to produce such violent nausea? I'm just imagining a situation where she's in extreme pain and can't alleviate it. As someone who was in a similar situation overseas, the thought drives me crazy. Surely there must be people in similar situations, and what do you do? Thanks,
Posted Fri, 21 Jun 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Jorge Brenes-Salazar 1 hour later

thanks for taking care of your mom. As you mention, most of narcotics have class side effects and cross reaction, meaning that different drugs can give the same undesired side effects. The other major class of medications that you left out of consideration are non steroidal antiinflammatories or NSAIDS, medications from the same family as aspirin that help relieve inflammation and mild to moderare pain. Intravenous and intramuscular options include ketorolac and diclofenac. From the oral options, if there is a history of gastric ulcers then celecoxib is the best choice otherwise naproxen and ibuprofen have the safest profile. these can be combined with acetaminophen for increased pain control

hope that helps wish you both the best

Dr Brenes Salazar MD
Mayo Clinic MN
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