Thursday, January 21, 2016

Your family’s medicine cabinet: throw out the codeine

Kevin C. Osterhoudt, MD,is the medical director of The Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
   The days of January are short and cold. At times it can seem that everyone is coughing from a cold, the flu, or bronchitis. Pains can flare. It’s easy to be sick of being sick and to want to find relief.
   Since the 1950s people have used a drug called codeine to try to stop cough or reduce pain. Codeine may be found paired with the common pain and fever medication acetaminophen, it may be prescribed on its own, or it may be in cough and cold medications. But over the past 20 years, we’ve been learning that it’s a bad idea. In 2016, you should resolve to clear your medicine cabinet of codeine (and remind your doctor of that resolution, too!).
   Codeine is classified as an “opioid” and is a man-made drug similar to heroin or morphine. In fact, codeine doesn’t do much on its own – your body’s liver needs to convert it to morphine before it works. Therein lies the problem, that conversion is different for different people. Read more>>

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