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Treats moderate to severe pain.

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Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) is a fast-acting, potent medication that treats problems needing strong pain relief.

Prescription opioids are used to treat several kinds of pain - but they carry significant risks, including addiction. Learn more about these drugs and be sure to discuss the risks with your doctor.
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  • 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.
  • 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.

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Side effects for Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

From clinical trials of Dilaudid / Chronic pain ( 2474)

  • ConstipationConstipation31% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • NauseaNausea28% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • HeadacheHeadache15% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • DrowsinessDrowsiness14% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • Muscle weakness/fatiguea/fatigueMuscle weakness/fatiguea/fatigue12% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • DizzinessDizziness11% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • DiarrheaDiarrhea11% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • Sleep difficultySleep difficulty8% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • ItchingItching8% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo
  • HyperhydrosisHyperhydrosis7% for Dilaudid vs.0% for placebo

What to expect when you start Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • 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.

Risks and Warnings for Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • 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

    Taking too much Dilaudid (Hydromorphone) can cause irregular or slow breathing that can put you in a coma and can cause death. If your lips and fingers start turning blue from low oxygen, see a doctor immediately. In the hospital, doctors can give you a medicine that reverses the effects of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone). Don't take more than your doctor prescribes. Always check with your doctor before starting any new medicines or supplements.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

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The FDA category for this medication is C. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
  • Tips from our pharmacists
  • Never use alcohol when taking Dilaudid (Hydromorphone).
Kidneys & liver
  • If you have Kidney Stones or anything that causes severe pain, Dilaudid is like a miracle drip! Instant relief! It did not help as much for kidney stones AND kidney infection together. I have only had Dilaudid via IV drip.
    Age: 50
    Gender: woman
    Taken for: Opioid-tolerant pain (severe)
  • This was good for me c because I never had that stoned feeling, it either would kill pains or dull them enough to function all day and sleep well, some days I would limit my dose to two 4 mg 1 morning, 1 at night and that would be fine.
    Age: 63
    Gender: man
    Taken for: Pain (moderate to severe)