Tramadol Vs Hydrocodone: A Thorough Comparison

tramadol vs hydrocodone

Tramadol vs Hydrocodone – in this article, we make a detailed comparison between both the medicines.


We may have to use different pain killers during different stages of our lives. The doctors will prescribe pain killers only after checking our medical history. However, as users of these medicines, we need to have some basic knowledge regarding the medicines.

This will ensure our safety and also prevent the misuse of medicines. Tramadol and Hydrocodone are two commonly prescribed pain killers. We have shared information regarding these two medicines here so that our readers know better. Read along to know:

Tramadol Vs Hydrocodone

Tramadol and Hydrocodone are medicines prescribed by doctors to tackle moderate to severe pain. These are opioid medicines that are effective in treating pain after surgery or chronic pain as in the case of some types of cancers.  These medicines work by changing the way the person responds to pain that arises due to bruises. These opioid medicines require a doctor’s prescription and are not available as over the counter medicine.

1. Prescription

Both Tramadol and Hydrocodone are medicines prescribed to tackle moderate to severe pain. The doctors usually try prescribing non – opioid medicines to patients suffering from pain. If those don’t work, the doctors may prescribe Tramadol or Hydrocodone to the patient. This is because both these medicines are addictive and habit forming medicines.

2. Available Forms

These medicines are available in their branded form as well as in many generic forms. The different branded versions of Tramadol are Ultram and Ultram ER. Hydrocodone is available in different branded versions like Zohydro ER, Lortab, Vicodin, Hysingla ER, and Norco.

Tramadol as well as Hydrocodone are available in oral tablet regular release form, oral tablet extended-release form, and oral capsule form. Apart from these, Tramadol is available in Oral Suspension form while Hydrocodone is available in Oral Solution form. The medicine should only be consumed as per the doctor’s prescription.

3. Side Effects

All medicines have certain side effects and Tramadol and Hydrocodone are no exception.

Less severe side effects common to Tramadol and Hydrocodone:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness are side effects common to Tramadol as well as Hydrocodone
  • Both these medicines may cause digestive health problems like nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • People who are using any of these medicines may also suffer from constipation issues.

More severe side effects of both these medicines are listed below:

  • Both these medicines are known to cause mood problems in users
  • Hypersensitivity reactions are other possible serious side effects of both these medicines that may result in skin rashes, swelling of throat and tongue
  • The users may also encounter trouble breathing because of the side effect of these medicines

Side Effects Unique to Tramadol

  • Headache and weakness are visible in users of Tramadol
  • They may also encounter facial flushing, itching, and congestion
  • In rare cases, Tramadol users may also get seizure attacks

Side Effects Unique to Hydrocodone

  • Hydrocodone may cause respiratory depression in rare cases
  • Confusion and low blood pressure are other side effects that are possible
  • Individuals may also encounter a gastric obstruction

The doctor usually weighs the risks against the benefits before deciding to prescribe these medicines.

4. Warning Signs

One of the greatest risk factors associated with Tramadol as well as Hydrocodone is addiction. Both these medicines have habit forming tendencies. Hydrocodone is also provided with a black box warning regarding the possibility of addiction.

Since users may develop tolerance towards these medicines if the prescribed dosage of the medicine is exceeded, you should never exceed the prescribed dose without consulting the doctor.

People with a history of drug addiction or alcohol abuse are more prone to dependence on these drugs.  As users of these medicines, another thing you must remember is never to stop the medicine abruptly.

Stop the medicines gradually so that the adverse withdrawal symptoms do not harm you. It is best to seek a doctor’s advice while reducing medicines.

5. Drug Interactions

Knowing the possible drug interactions of these medicines is important as a user of these medicines.

  • Since both Tramadol and Hydrocodone are metabolized in the liver, they interact with medicines that affect the liver enzymes
  • These medicines interact with other medicines that have CNS side effects
  • These medicines should not be prescribed to epileptics because the medicines interact with anticonvulsants
  • The medicines are also known to react with antidepressants and relaxants
  • Strong laxatives may reduce the effect of Hydrocodone
  • Tramadol may interact with warfarin and digoxin
  • Doctors advise users not to consume alcohol while using these drugs because alcohol may increase the effects of these medicines’ negative effects manifold

Tramadol Vs Hydrocodone: FAQs

Since these are opioid medicines, people have many queries related to the usefulness of these medicines. There are many queries that arise in the minds of these people. Some of the common questions are answered here:

1. Are Tramadol and Hydrocodone the same?

No. While both are opioid medicines, the way they help to counter pain and the side effects of each of these medicines differ slightly. You need to consult a doctor to know which of these medicines suit you best.

2. Which is better?

Tramadol is prescribed to people because of the reduced risk of habit-forming. However, in some cases of chronic pain, Hydrocodone is shown to provide quick relief compared to Tramadol.

3. What to tell your doctor before getting a prescription?

You need to inform your doctor about your medical history. Tell your doctor about any respiratory health problems you have had in the past. You must also inform your doctor about liver health problems because these medicines are processed in the liver. You also need to inform your doctor about adverse habits that may affect your health.

4. Can they be combined with alcohol?

Yes, this is because alcohol can increase the negative effects of Tramadol and Hydrocone manifold hampering your health.