Can You Take Ibuprofen On Norco?
The NSAID medication ibuprofen (Advil) does not interact negatively with either acetaminophen or hydrocodone (Norco). As such, patients may, if needed, use these medications together for a limited period of time.
When receiving medical treatment for severe pain it is critically important that patients only use their medication as directed and take every effort to avoid harmful drug interactions.
However, there are some medications that can safely be used together to provide an increased level of pain and inflammation control for a limited period of time, as is the case with ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen/hydrocodone (Norco).
What Is Norco?
Norco is a now-discontinued brand name narcotic pain medication made with a combination of the opioid drug hydrocodone and the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen.
Hydrocodone works by binding to opioid receptors in the body, changing how the central nervous system responds to pain and stress.
Acetaminophen, also sold as Tylenol, is a common analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer) that appears to work by interfering with the body’s production of prostaglandin, which, in turn, reduces inflammation, fever, and feelings of pain.
What Is Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen, which is sold under the brand names Motrin and Advil, is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Inside the body, ibuprofen acts as an inhibitor of the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme, which in turn also interferes with the body’s production of prostaglandins, pain, and inflammation.
Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, & Hydrocodone Combination Medications
These three pain medicines are all commonly used together in different combinations.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are commonly alternated to provide effective non-prescription pain relief, while a number of common opioid pain medications have been made with a combination of one drug or the other.
- Norco/Vicodin/Lortab (acetaminophen and hydrocodone)
- Vicoprofen/Ibudone/Reprexain (ibuprofen and hydrocodone)
The same is true of other NSAID drugs, including naproxen, aspirin, and others, and certain other opioids, especially codeine and oxycodone.
However, it is critically important that anyone using pain medication, including over-the-counter pain meds, read the provided drug information and follow all the directions included with that product.
Both short-term and long-term health consequences are likely to occur if these medications are misused.
Risks & Precautions
These pain medications are not without potential risks and precautions, including:
- potentially serious allergic reactions (all)
- potential harm to unborn babies in late pregnancy (NSAIDs, hydrocodone)
- life-threatening overdose symptoms including respiratory depression (hydrocodone), liver injury/failure (acetaminophen), and digestive/kidney/cardiovascular injury or failure (ibuprofen)
- liver injury if taken Norco with alcohol (acetaminophen)
- increased risk of heart attack or stroke (ibuprofen)
- stomach or intestinal bleeding (ibuprofen, especially if you have had an ulcer in the past, smoke, or drink regularly)
- serious interactions with MAO inhibitors (hydrocodone)
- sleep-related breathing problems/apnea (hydrocodone)
- interactions with other CNS depressants, including alcohol, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and dental anesthetics (hydrocodone)
- drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, or euphoria (hydrocodone)
- dry mouth (hydrocodone)
- vision changes (ibuprofen)
- increased acid reflux and heartburn (hydrocodone)
- serotonin syndrome (hydrocodone, usually only when taken with other serotonin-increasing drugs or supplements)
- constipation (hydrocodone)
- hyperkalemia, an increase in blood potassium (hydrocodone)
- reduced fertility (hydrocodone)
Pain Medication Addiction
Neither acetaminophen or ibuprofen are euphoric or habit-forming, though it is possible to develop psychological dependence on these substances.
Hydrocodone and other opioid drugs, on the other hand, are notoriously habit-forming and are frequently diverted and abused leading to sometimes severe opioid use disorders and a variety of long-term consequences.
This has also led to serious medical emergencies in which opioid combination pain medications, like Norco, were abused in high doses, resulting in acetaminophen toxicity, liver damage, and other unintended side effects.
Still others, around 5,200 in Ohio alone in 2020, succumb to fatal opioid overdose due to:
- accidental misuse and overdose
- abuse of prescription medications
- abuse of illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl
- use of unpredictable counterfeit prescription pain medications
If you or someone you love has been struggling with misusing prescription pain medications like hydrocodone/acetaminophen, help is available.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm
- Food And Drug Administration (FDA) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/040099s023lbl.pdf
- Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/acetaminophen-oral-route-rectal-route/description/drg-20068480
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus Drug Information https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682159.html