Compare Dilaudid vs. fentanyl

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Dilaudid
(Hydromorphone)

Duragesic
(Fentanyl)

Treats moderate to severe pain. Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is a fast-acting, potent medication that treats problems needing strong pain relief.Treats severe pain. Duragesic (Fentanyl) is an excellent pain reliever, but should only be used by people who've tried other opioid pain medications and still need more relief.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.65625Dilaudid
Reviews for Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)
75%
of people say Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is worth it
72%
say it works well
9%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Duragesic (Fentanyl)
79%
+4% vs. Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)
75%
+3% vs. Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)
13%
4% vs. Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)
Side effects
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • Joint pain 4%
  • Weight decreased 1%
More Dilaudid side effects »
  • Feeling cold 4%
  • Feeling unwell 3%
  • Heart pounding or racing sensation 3%
  • Muscle spasms 2%
More fentanyl side effects »
How it works
Dilaudidfentanyl
Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is an opioid medicine (similar to morphine) that works in the brain to lower pain perception.Duragesic (Fentanyl) is an opioid (narcotic) medicine that works in the brain to lower pain perception.
Type of medication
Dilaudidfentanyl
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Available as
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
  • Suppository
  • Patch
  • Patch extended release
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Mouth spray
  • Lozenge
  • Buccal tablet
  • Nasal spray
Used for (click to learn more)
Dilaudidfentanyl
Risk factors for serious side effects
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Higher dose
  • People with not enough thyroid hormones
  • History of lung problems
  • Children age 18 and younger
  • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Long-term use
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) risks & warnings »
  • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Higher dose
  • People with not enough thyroid hormones
  • History of lung problems
  • Children age 18 and younger
  • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Long-term use
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Duragesic (Fentanyl) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
Dilaudidfentanyl
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
  • Never use alcohol when taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone).
  • Never drink alcohol when using Duragesic (Fentanyl).
Food
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Dizziness and drowsiness are common when taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone), but your body may adjust over time.
  • Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) will cause drowsiness, so be really careful if you're taking other meds that also cause drowsiness, such as antidepressives, antianxiety meds, or muscle relaxants.
  • Often causes drowsiness and constipation. If using it long-term, use a stool softener.
Weight
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • Works well to relieve moderate to severe pain.
  • Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is stronger than morphine and works quicker than other pain medications.
  • It doesn't cause as many side effects, like nausea and rashes, as morphine does.
  • It's available as fast-acting tablets, extended-release tablets, and as a liquid.
  • It's used for people who have tried other opioid medications, but still need stronger pain relief.
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) is stronger than morphine, works quickly, and doesn't cause as many stomach problems.
  • It's available in many dosage forms, including a patch, injection, film, nasal spray, and lollipop.
  • The Duragesic (Fentanyl) patch provides long-term pain relief and lowers the number of times you need to take pain medications each day.
Downsides and risks
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • People with breathing problems like asthma and COPD need to be monitored very closely if taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone).
  • Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) isn't usually used for elderly or frail patients.
  • Dizziness and drowsiness are common when taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone), but your body may adjust over time.
  • Everyone tends to get constipation while on this, so you'll need to stay hydrated and may need to take a stool softener medication.
  • Long-term use will likely cause physical dependence.
  • Must be weaned slowly off the medicine after using it longer than 2 weeks.
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) isn't for everyone. It's a really strong pain medication and taking too much can be deadly.
  • It doesn't provide quick pain relief.
  • Often causes drowsiness and constipation. If using it long-term, use a stool softener.
  • Like all opioids, don't use when pregnant, since the baby can become dependent on it and have withdrawal symptoms after birth.
  • Shouldn't be used for people with breathing problems (like asthma and COPD), a slow heart rate, or in the elderly.
  • If using the patch, you won't be able to get the medicine out of your body quickly in case of an overdose.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
Dilaudidfentanyl
  • Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is usually taken for a short time. If you take it longer than 2 weeks, you'll need to lower your dose slowly to get off it since stopping suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms.
  • Usually works within 30 minutes.
  • Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) will cause drowsiness, so be really careful if you're taking other meds that also cause drowsiness, such as antidepressives, antianxiety meds, or muscle relaxants.
  • Never use alcohol when taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone).
  • It's very important to keep Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) away from children, since it can stop them from breathing.
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) should only be used for people whose pain is not controlled by other opioid medications for at least one week.
  • For pain, the patch takes 12 hours to start working and all other forms start working in 30 minutes or less.
  • If using the patch, keep it away from heat sources like heating pads, or else it'll cause the medication to be unsafely released into your skin.
  • Never stop taking Duragesic (Fentanyl) suddenly or else you'll have withdrawal effects. To stop taking it, you'll need to lower your dose slowly.
  • Never drink alcohol when using Duragesic (Fentanyl).
  • Just one dose can be harmful or fatal to children, so store and dispose of this medication in a way that children can't get to it.
Learn more
More about DilaudidSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about fentanylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert