How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

Hydrocodone is a prescription medication used to treat severe pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is a semi-synthetic opioid — meaning that it is derived from the natural opiate codeine but has been modified to enhance its pain-relieving properties. Opioids work in the body by binding to specific brain and spinal cord receptors, known as opioid receptors. These receptors regulate pain, pleasure, and other bodily sensations, says the Mayo Clinic. The drug is usually taken orally in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid solution and is only available by prescription under the guidance of a doctor, per DrugBank.

There are various types of hydrocodone tablets. The most common form is sold under brand names like Lortab and Norco, explains DrugBank. Many brands combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen in varying strengths. There's also the extended-release form, which is formulated to release the medication over a longer period.

If you've been prescribed hydrocodone, you might wonder how long it stays in the body. In general, hydrocodone can be detected in urine for up to four days after the last use, according to Medical News Today. However, this timeline can vary depending on the individual and their circumstances. How testing is performed can also make a difference in its detection.

If you would like to know how long hydrocodone stays in your body under varying conditions, continue reading as we delve into this question as well as explore what you should do if you have any concerns about your medication.

Factors affecting how long hydrocodone stays in your body

According to Medical News Today, hydrocodone can be detected in a urine test for up to one to four days after the last use. However, it can be detected in the blood for up to 24 hours, in saliva for up to 36 hours, and in the hair for up to 90 days. 

That being said, it's vital to note that the length of time that hydrocodone stays in your system depends on several factors, including frequency of use, genetics, and dosage. 

Dosage can vary, depending on which formulation of oxycodone you have been prescribed as well as your own personal needs. For example, for hydrocodone with acetaminophen tablets, the recommended adult dose is typically 5 to 10 milligrams of hydrocodone every four to six hours as needed for pain relief. However, for hydrocodone extended-release tablets, the recommended starting dose is usually 20 milligrams every 24 hours. Your doctor may adjust the dose as necessary based on your response to treatment.

The half-life of hydrocodone is approximately four hours, says This means it takes about four hours for the body to eliminate half of the hydrocodone that was ingested. After another four hours, half of the remaining hydrocodone will be eliminated, and so on. 

It is important to note that while the half-life of hydrocodone can indicate how long the drug may remain in the body, it does not necessarily reflect how long the effects of the drug will last. The half-life of hydrocodone can vary depending on individual factors, such as age and overall health status. Additionally, people with slower metabolisms may take longer to eliminate hydrocodone from their system.

What to do if you have concerns about hydroxcodone

While hydrocodone can be an effective pain reliever when used as prescribed, it can also have a range of side effects. Some common side effects of hydrocodone include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, constipation, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, headache, blurred vision, stomach pain, and itching. These side effects are usually mild and can often be managed with adjustments to the dosage or other pain management strategies.

However, in addition to these common side effects, hydrocodone can also cause more serious side effects, especially when taken in higher doses or for prolonged periods of time. Serious side effects of hydrocodone may include difficulty breathing or shallow breathing; chest pain; rapid or irregular heartbeat; confusion or hallucinations; seizures; and signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives and swelling of the mouth and face. 

As mentioned, hydrocodone can also be habit-forming, which can cause physical dependence and addiction. It is, therefore, vital to follow the dosage your doctor prescribes and not take more than the recommended amount. Abruptly stopping hydrocodone use can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and insomnia.

If you have concerns about how long hydrocodone stays in your system or its potential side effects, it's always best to talk to your doctor. They can provide guidance on safe and effective use and help monitor for any problems.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).