Is Dihydrocodeine Stronger than Codeine?

22nd October 2021

In the complicated and saturated world of pain killers, not knowing which is stronger or the most suitable for your pain can be incredibly stressful. Added stress, which is not needed at any time, let alone when you’re already suffering with pain. Two very popular pain killers are dihydrocodeine and codeine. But which is stronger? What pain relief treatment is best for your pain?

What is Dihydrocodeine?

Dihydrocodeine belongs to a family of pain relief called opioids. Dihydrocodeine was first discovered in 1911 and was granted approval for medical use in 1948. On average, it takes around 1.5/2 hours to work fully, after being ingested. It works by stopping the pain signals that travel to the brain, recognising that the body is in pain. It is composed of a mixture of opioid pain relievers, aspirin, and caffeine. While the opioid pain relievers interact with the brain, the aspirin decreases fever and swelling, and caffeine increases the effectiveness of the aspirin. Dihydrocodeine is used to treat severe pain, like the pain after a surgery or recovering from a serious illness. It is an extremely strong pain killer.

which is stronger codeine or dihydrocodeine

Whilst taking dihydrocodeine, some people might notice common side effects. Common side effects can include nausea, vomiting, an upset stomach, constipation, a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded and drowsiness. If these side effects do get worse, it is best to speak to your GP.

Some uncommon side effects can be very serious. These side effects include feeling agitated, experiencing hallucinations, unexplained mood changes, an irregular heartbeat, an increased thirst, bruising easily, a persistent ringing in the ears, a constant sore throat, heartburn, discomfort when swallowing, unexplained weight loss and dark urine. 

It is safe to take dihydrocodeine with pain killers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. However, you must never take it with pain relief medications that contain codeine as you will have a greater chance of experiencing side effects from the treatment.

An important aspect of dihydrocodeine to note is addiction. Unfortunately, some users can find themselves addicted and dependent on the relief from pain the medication provides them, especially if the person is taking the medication on a long-term basis for something like chronic pain. If you believe that either yourself or a loved one is suffering with an addiction to an opioid medication, you must always ask for help from a medical professional.

What is codeine?

Another well-known member of the pain relief family is codeine. Codeine is an opiate, whereas dihydrocodeine is an opioid. Both are narcotic pain relief drugs; however opiates are completely natural substances created from an opium poppy. Opioids are partly synthetic and aren’t found in nature. 

Unlike dihydrocodeine, codeine is used to treat mild-to-moderate pain and is particularly helpful when traditional pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are not effective. It works by attaching itself to certain, very small areas called opioid receptors. These are located in your central nervous system, inside your brain and on your spinal cord. This alters your reaction to pain and decreases the way you feel pain. 

There are quite a few scenarios which would cause concern if you were to take codeine. If you do choose to take it, it’s very important that a medical professional knows if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Currently have/have ever had kidney problems
  • Currently have/have ever had liver problems
  • Have difficulties passing urine
  • Have been diagnosed with asthma or COPD
  • Have been told that you have low blood pressure
  • Have an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Experience problems with your thyroid or adrenal glands.
  • Have epilepsy
  • Have gallstones
  • Experience problems with your bile duct
  • Have had constipation for more than a week
  • Have an inflammatory bowel problem
  • Experience muscle weakness
  • Have recently had a serious head injury
  • Have every been addicted to either drugs or alcohol
  • Have ever had an allergic reaction to a medication
  • Are taking any other medications

Codeine usually does not trigger any side effects for most people. Around 1 in 100 people will experience common side effects, with the rate being higher if you take a larger dosage. Common side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, confusion, dizziness, vertigo, an unexplained dry mouth and headaches. 

For a rare group, their side effects may be more serious. Less than 1 in 100 people experience these side effects – if you find yourself experiencing them, it’s very important that you speak to a medical professional urgently. These side effects include breathing difficulties, needing to execute short, shallow breaths, muscle stiffness and symptoms of low blood pressure such as tiredness. An even more serious side effect is fitting or seizures – you must visit A&E immediately if you experience this whilst taking codeine.

codeine for pain

Which is stronger?

Overwhelmingly, dihydrocodeine is a much stronger pain killer. Used to treat severe pain, such as recovering from a serious illness or surgery, it should never be used lightly or treat a minor pain. Codeine is perfect to use when paracetamol or ibuprofen is not proving to be effective for something like a headache or minor injury.

How do I order pain relief medication online?

There are many effective medications available to help you manage your pain. At EU Meds, we offer a range of pain relief medication designed to give you great results. You can buy dihydrocodeine here at EU Meds. We also have codeine for sale.

Ordering from us is so easy! You simply find the medication you would like to order, complete a quick and straightforward consultation and then your prescription is sent straight to a local pharmacy of your choice and delivered straight to your front door.