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Dilaudid: What You Need To Know

Dilaudid For Pain Relief After Surgery

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Updated February 24, 2011

Dilaudid Hydromorphone Surgery

Dilaudid For Pain Relief After Surgery

Photo: © Andrew Olney/Getty Images

Dilaudid, also known as Hydromorphone HCl, is a narcotic analgesic. This means that Dilaudid is chemically similar to morphine and provides pain relief.

Dilaudid is also sold under the names Palladone, Palladone SR, Dihydromorphinone, and Hydromorphone Hydrochloride.

Why Is Dilaudid Used?

Dilaudid is used to treat pain after surgery, as well as other types of pain. In some cases it is used to treat dry, hacking coughs. Dilaudid is not typically used for chronic pain, but for short-term pain relief.

How Is Dilaudid Given?

In a hospital setting, Dilaudid may be given via IV, as an epidural, or in a pill form. IV Dilaudid can be given continuously as an IV drip, or it can be given one dose at a time through the IV line (as a bolus). In some cases, Dilaudid is used in a PCA pump -- a pain pump that delivers predetermined doses of the medication when a button is pressed by the patient.

Dilaudid is typically prescribed in pill form for use after discharge from the hospital, but it is available as a liquid if necessary.

Side Effects of Dilaudid

One of the most common side effects of Dilaudid, and other narcotics, is constipation. After surgery, constipation can be a major issue, so it is important to drink ample fluids and try to eat well after surgery, making sure to include foods high in fiber.

Similar to morphine, Dilaudid can cause sleepiness and mental fogging. It may make you feel “dopey” or “slow.” Dizziness can also result, as Dilaudid can lower blood pressure. For these reasons, driving and other activities that could be harmful if you are sleepy while doing them should only be done with caution and only after you know how you react to your dose of medication.

Dilaudid also works as a cough suppressant. After major surgeries, pneumonia is a risk, so it is important to cough deeply on a regular basis to keep the lungs clear. If you are having trouble remembering to cough, one great reminder is to cough a few times when a commercial break comes on while watching television.

Dilaudid Warnings

  • Dilaudid should not be used by breastfeeding women.
  • Dilaudid has not been studied for use by pregnant women.
  • The elderly have been found to be more sensitive to Dilaudid and should take care until an appropriate dose is determined.
  • Too much Dilaudid (overdose) can depress the respiratory system and cause breathing to stop completely.
  • This drug should not be taken before driving or using machinery.

Dilaudid Addiction

Dilaudid does have addictive properties and should be treated with caution if used for longer than a few weeks. When used properly, and according to instructions, addiction is typically not an issue after surgery, as it is only used during the early portion of the recovery period.

Illicit use, meaning using Dilaudid when there is no medically necessary reason for doing so or without a prescription, can lead to addiction and symptoms of withdrawal when the drug is stopped.

Sources:

Daily Med. Hydromorphone HCl. http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=2189#nlm34069-5

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