What are the Different Codeine Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2020
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The list of possible codeine side effects can include both those experienced physically and those experienced mentally or emotionally. Some codeine side effects might be directly related to the medication, such as constipation, headaches, and weakness. Other side effects might be in response to effects, such as feeling irritable due to sleeplessness. Also, when a patient is taking codeine he is at risk for developing an addiction or dependence, which can bring additional side effects. The patient and his doctor should discuss all these possible codeine side effects, as well as the steps the patient should take when they become adverse or severe.

Physical side effects of codeine can include headaches, nausea or vomiting, weakness, and drowsiness or trouble sleeping. Other physical codeine side effects might include seizures, difficulty urinating, constipation or diarrhea, tremors, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. While taking codeine, some people might experience allergic reactions, which can include everything from difficulty breathing, itching and rashes or hives, chest pain or tightening, and swollen body parts such as the mouth and face.

Mental and emotional codeine side effects can include anxiety, nervousness, and excitability. Some people might experience mild to severe mood changes, such as feeling euphoric or depressed when taking codeine medications. Some of these mental and emotional codeine side effects can be in response to other effects of codeine, such as sleeplessness or drowsiness, or they can be side effects all their own.


Additional risks of taking codeine include developing a habit, experiencing physical dependence, and becoming addicted. Codeine addiction can bring the same kinds of physical, mental, and emotional side effects as listed above, as well as new side effects related to the dependence. For example, if a patient becomes dependent and addicted to codeine, he might begin to experience body aches, stomach cramps, irritability, and other kinds of common withdrawal symptoms.

Typically, doctors prescribe codeine medications in dosages appropriate for each patient and his medical problem. While the patient is taking the medication, the doctor will monitor effectiveness, side effects, and the dosage to make sure the medication is working properly and the patient isn’t becoming dependent. Still, there is room for error. Before beginning any medication, doctors and patients should discuss possible side effects and other risks, especially so the patients understand at what point they should stop taking the medication and seek medical attention. While they’re taking the codeine, patients should keep the lines of communication with their doctors open and be willing to discuss every adverse side effect and addiction concern.


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Post 3

When I was on codeine, I had some minor side effects like constipation and upset stomach. The major side effect was addiction. Codeine is so addictive! I only took it for a week but I had serious withdrawal symptoms when I stopped.

I had migraines, fatigue and flu like symptoms for four days after I quit codeine cold turkey. It was not fun. Addiction has to be the worst side effect of codeine.

Post 2

@alisha-- I don't have trouble sleeping when I take codeine. It actually has the opposite effect, it makes me sleepy and drowsy. I also get very weird and vivid dreams when I take codeine. I haven't had any side effects aside from these.

Are you taking a very high dose? You might want to talk to your doctor about it, your dose might need to be adjusted.

Post 1

Ever since I started taking codeine, I can't sleep at night. I've never had this problem before.

Does codeine have the same effect on everyone?

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