Codeine phosphate is a type of medicine called an opioid. Codeine is a mild painkiller, but also has cough suppressant and anti-diarrhoeal actions. Codeine phosphate syrup is prescribed to relieve mild to moderate pain and diarrhoea. (Lower strength formulations of codeine are used to treat cough. See the factsheets linked at the end for more information about the cough suppressant use of codeine.).
Codeine linctus is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine. Last updated 01.07.2013.
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Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
There may be an increased risk of side effects such as constipation, dry mouth and blurred vision if codeine is taken with antimuscarinic medicines that can cause these type of side effects, such as the following:
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This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediay.
In treating pain, codeine works by mimicking the action of naturally occurring pain-reducing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are found in the brain and spinal cord and reduce pain by combining with opioid receptors. Codeine mimicks the action of natural endorphins by combining with the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This blocks the transmission of pain signals sent by the nerves to the brain. Therefore, even though the cause of the pain may remain, less pain is actually felt.
In treating diarrhoea, codeine works by acting on opioid receptors that are found in the muscles lining the walls of the intestines. This reduces the muscular contractions of the intestine (called peristalsis) that move food and faecal matter through the gut. The speed at which the gut contents are pushed through the intestines is therefore reduced, allowing more time for water and electrolytes to be reabsorbed from the gut contents back into the body. This results in firmer stools that are passed less frequently.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
This medicine may cause drowsiness. If this occurs, it may be made worse if the medicine is taken in combination with any of the following, which can also cause drowsiness:
Codeine phosphate can reduce the muscular activity in the gut and so may oppose the effect of the following medicines on the gut:
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
There is a risk of severe constipation if codeine is used with antimotility medicines for diarrhoea, such as loperamide.
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Rifampicin and ritonavir may also reduce the effects of codeine.
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This medicine should not be used by people who are currently taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or who have taken one of these medicines in the last 14 days. MAOIs include the antidepressants phenelzine, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid and moclobemide and the anti-Parkinson's medicine selegiline.
It is important to l your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
Quinidine reduces the painkilling effect of codeine.
Cough syrup with codeine