tramadol vs hydrocodone

Tramadol vs Hydrocodone: How are They Different?

April 17, 2019

Are you picking an opioid painkiller? If so, then you have many options since the global opioids market was already worth almost $23 billion in 2016. There are several options to consider like tramadol vs hydrocodone. They’re both powerful painkillers that can effectively provide relief even though one is less strong than the other.


Choosing Painkillers

Finding the right opioid painkiller is easier when you consider different issues. They include the ingredients, potency, effectiveness, side-effects, and so on. Opioids are very powerful prescription drugs so it’s important to have key info so you can pick the right product for your needs.

When weighing painkillers like tramadol and hydrocodone it’s important to do a side-by-side comparison. This helps to figure out which one is the better choice for you. Since they’re both opioids they can reduce pain and boost emotions. That said, there are some differences in how strong each painkiller is and the reasons they’re used. These are both important issues because factors like the opioid drug’s strength also affect when you should and shouldn’t use it. In addition, Hydrocodone was patented almost a century ago (1923) while Tramadol hit the market 55+ years ago. Let’s take a closer look at these two opioid-like painkillers.


What are Tramadol and Hydrocodone?

1. Tramadol

This is a prescription drug that’ used for relieving moderate to mid-severe pain. It’s like opioid analgesics (painkillers). In other words, it’s able to change how the body feels/responds to pain. This synthetic drug was created as a painkiller by German chemists in 1962. This is a powerful drug that’s about 10% as strong as morphine. So, it’s important to take the proper dosage to prevent overdosing.

This med also works like morphine. That’s because it affects things in the brain and body called “mu-opioid receptors.” It works by blocking messages throughout the body so the feeling of pain is reduced. It’s also able to reduce people’s anxiety and depression.

Tramadol has become quite popular in the sports world. It’s been used by athletes like pro cyclist Michael Barry. Some people have even argued the painkiller should be banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Another concern of some people is addiction to the synthetic opioid. This is due to the morphine-like structure of the drug.

2. Hydrocodone

This medication is designed to provide long-term pain relief. Physicians usually prescribe the drug when other painkillers don’t work.

This is an opiate painkiller. It functions by tweaking the response to pain by the brain and nervous system. This helps the user to feel less pain by blocking it.

This prescription drug is sometimes combined with other drugs. One of the most common combos is with Acetaminophen, which is an over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller that can relieve fever.

However, it can also be prescribed by itself and provides strong pain relief. It’s also available as a long-acting tablet and capsule.

This is a strong painkiller so it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders. He/She can inform you about any possible issues because of medical conditions or other meds you’re taking now.


Tramadol vs Hydrocodone Comparison

In comparing these two meds it’s important to know how they’re similar and different. Here are some of the main similarities and differences between the two:

1. Varieties

Both of the drugs are available under different brand names, as a generic drug. Both of the drugs can also be used as a combination with the OTC painkiller Tylenol. It’s important to review the different brand names these drugs are under so it’s easier to recognize other names for Tramadol and Hydrocodone.

2. Strength

Physicians consider tramadol as a milder drug than hydrocodone. This explains why they prescribe it for pain that’s less severe.

In fact, since hydrocodone is used for severe pain it’s often used when other painkillers like milder opioids aren’t effective enough in relieving pain.

3. Overdose and Addiction

Both of these drugs have risks of addiction and overdose due to being a synthetic opioid. So, it’s important to take the meds at the lowest dose possible and for short periods. This will help to prevent addiction/overdose.

4. Uses

Both of these opioids are prescribed by doctors when the patient is suffering from severe pain. The causes can be a serious accident, surgery, or severe pain due to health conditions.

Another difference worth noting in terms of the drugs’ use is doctors often prescribe hydrocodone for treating severe coughs like for lung cancer. It’s important to note the med doesn’t work for all types of coughs so make sure to research this issue.

It works by decreasing the brain’s activity that’s causing the coughing. This differs from tramadol since doctors usually don’t prescribe it for this function.

5. Form

Both tramadol and hydrocodone are usually available in a pill or tablet. When taking the med, it’s important to swallow it whole and break/crush it before. This will help to produce the best results.


Taking Tramadol and Hydrocodone

It’s important to know some important factors about taking these two drugs.

1. Warnings

There are certain situations when one or both of these drugs shouldn’t be subscribed. For example, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends opioids like hydrocodone shouldn’t be given to children under 18 years old.

The FDA also recommends that children under 12 years old not be prescribed tramadol. In some cases, kids between 12 to 18 also shouldn’t take tramadol if they have certain medical conditions.

It’s important to note that it’s very dangerous for children under 12 years old to be prescribed either of these meds.

In addition, women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should avoid taking hydrocodone and tramadol. The baby could be affected by the drugs’ strong chemicals so a woman should never take these drugs while pregnant/breastfeeding.

2. Side Effects

The side-effects of these two drugs differ from person to person and might include different ones like:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Lower sex drive
  • Heartburn
  • Appetite loss
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Drowsiness

Sometimes these drugs can cause major side-effects. It’s important for you to share all of your current health conditions and prescription meds. This can help to prevent possible problems when taking either of these two opioids.

3. Interactions

When you take hydrocodone or tramadol either of them might interact with other drugs you’re taking. This can possibly cause issues like breathing problems. Make sure to tell your doctor all the meds and supplements you’re taking before you start taking these two opioids.

Another thing to consider is you also shouldn’t take these prescription painkillers with alcohol or illegal drugs. This can cause dangerous side-effects.

Make sure to tell your doctor even about any supplements like vitamins you’re taking. These can affect the strong painkilling function of tramadol vs hydrocodone.