Oxycodone Facts

Oxycodone belongs to a class of medications, known as opiate analgesics, that change the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), oxycodone is used to relieve moderate-to-severe symptoms of pain. Learn more about this pain-relieving drug with the following key facts.

Forms of oxycodone

According to the NIH, oxycodone is available as a liquid, concentrated liquid solution, tablet, capsule or extended-release tablet. All these forms of oxycodone are taken by mouth and, with the exception of the extended-release tablets, are normally taken with food, every four-to-six hours, or as required. The extended-release tablets are only taken every 12 hours. The concentrate solution must be carefully measured and taken with at least one ounce of liquid or semi-solid food.


Oxycodone is only available with a prescription. Your doctor may initially prescribe a lower dose, which may gradually increase if the pain is not controlled. It is possible for your body to become used to the medication after time, which may also mean that your doctor increases the dose. The drug can be habit-forming, which means that you must not exceed the prescribed dose, nor should you suddenly stop taking the drug. Your doctor will be able to provide further guidance.


Oxycodone may be unsuitable for certain patients. Before your doctor prescribes oxycodone, you should ensure that he or she is aware if any of the following situations apply:

  • You are allergic to oxycodone, codeine or other medications that contain any of the ingredients of oxycodone. Many of these ingredients are found in common cold remedies and cough syrups.
  • You are taking any other prescription drugs. Some may not be compatible with oxycodone.
  • You have a pre-existing condition, including asthma or other respiratory problems and hyperthyroidism.
  • You have history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
  • You are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
  • You have any surgery planned.

Side effects

Oxycodone may cause a number of different side effects. Common side effects include nausea, constipation, dry mouth, loss of appetite, drowsiness and sweating. If these symptoms become severe or do not go away, you should contact your doctor. There are also some more severe side effects. These include fast or slow heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, facial swelling and hallucinations. You should speak to your doctor immediately in the event of any of these side effects.


Extended-release oxycodone tablets should only be taken by people who need regular doses of strong pain relief medication. These drugs should not be taken as a single course of treatment for occasional episodes of pain. Higher-strength oxycodone tablets should only be taken by patients who are tolerant to narcotic pain medication. In other patients, these drugs can cause breathing problems and even death. Extended-release tablets must be swallowed whole. If they are chewed, crushed or divided, there is a risk that the patient will receive the whole dose at once, which can lead to serious, life-threatening complications.

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