Medical Advice

Tramadol vs Hydrocodone: Two Pain Medications Comparison

Tramadol vs Hydrocodone

These days, it is found that approx 20.9% of people in the USA are experiencing chronic pain. This kind of unpleasant sensation is linked with tissue damage which may cause pain in any part of the body. The reason is due to injury, cancer-related, muscle spasms, etc. The intensity of the pain may vary from person to person and sometimes it is unbearable. There are various medicines which are available in the US market. There are two effective generic medications Tramadol and Hydrocodone which can help to treat such kinds of pain. In today’s blog, we will discuss how effectively tramadol vs Hydrocodone works, its uses, side effects, similarities and differences in various aspects and precautions.

What is Tramadol?

It is classified as the group drug class, opioid analgesic. The US FDA has permitted this medicine for treating moderate to adverse pain in individuals. Tramadol is a generic variant that is used as an ingredient (active) in various branded drugs.

The medicine is classified as a controlled substance under Schedule IV because there is a high chance of misuse and addiction. It cannot be used as per requirement for the pain.

What is Hydrocodone?

This is a partial opioid medicine which is authorized by the FDA for managing pain. Cough suppressants and narcotic painkillers are the drug class of this medication.

Hydrocodone is a generic variant that acts as a component (active) in various brand-name drugs. There is a low tendency of abuse and dependency, due to which it is categorized as CII (Schedule II substance).

Mechanism of Tramadol Medication

This medicine has very less attraction with mu-receptors, however, in the liver Tramadol gets converted into metabolite, M1.

This metabolite has a high tendency to bond with mu-opioid receptors. The reabsorption of chemical messengers like norepinephrine and serotonin. When the concentration of these neurotransmitters increases then it helps to reduce pain.

Mechanism of Hydrocodone Medication

The medicine has analgesic as well as antitussive properties and it activates receptors in the brain. Among those receptors, it has a tendency to bond with mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system.

This receptor is a G-coupled receptor which decreases the level of the cAMP. This helps to minimize neural excitability and reduce pain. It also acts as a cough suppressant and helps to treat respiratory depression.

Similarities Between Both Drugs (Tramadol vs Hydrocodone )

1) Both are generic variants and are used as salt compositions in numerous branded medicines.

2) The drug class of these medicines is the same, opioid analgesic.

3) Both are not “as-needed” medicines.

4) These are potent painkillers.

5) The interaction of these drugs with other medications can cause drug interaction.

Differences: Tramadol vs Hydrocodone

Let’s discuss the differences on the basis of the following factors-

1) Branded Medicines

Tramadol – Ultram, Qdolo, Ultram ER etc.

Hydrocodone – Zohyro ER, Hysingla ER etc.

2) Dose & Dosage Strength

A) Tramadol

a) Forms

It is available in the following forms with different medicinal strengths:-

Immediate-Release Oral Tablet

Extended-Release Oral Capsule

Oral Solution

  • Tramadol 5 mg/mL

b) Its Administration

The doctor determines the dosage strength to the severity of the pain or after examining the medical condition.

B) Hydrocodone

a) Form

It comes in the form of an oral capsule and tablet. Its medical strengths are as follows:-

3) Uses: Tramadol vs Hydrocodone


Approved Use:- The medicine is permitted for managing pain in patients.

Unapproved Use:- Apart from its approved use, it is used to treat the following disorders:-


The management of adverse chronic pain is treated with this FDA-approved drug.

Side Effects of Both Drugs (Tramadol vs Hydrocodone)

Common Side Effects of Both Drugs

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat (Hydrocodone)
  • Headache (Hydrocodone)
  • Vomiting

Severe Side Effects of Hydrocodone

  • Confusion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Hallucination
  • Sweating
  • Infertility issues in men and women
  • Allergic reactions
  • Serious breathing problems
  • Lack of coordination
  • Due to pause in breathing color of lips turned blue
  • Shivering
  • High body temperature
  • Involuntary shaking or tremors

Serious Side Effects of Tramadol

  • Serious breathing problems
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Reduced desire to eat
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Extreme tiredness

Precautions of Hydrocodone and Tramadol

  • You should share your medical history with a doctor before starting any treatment.
  • It is not suggested to take alcohol while taking any of these medications. It may increase dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Stop taking these medicines immediately, if you are hypersensitive to these components
  • Keep these painkillers out of reach of children.
  • Never other drugs while taking these medicines, it may cause drug interaction with fatal health consequences.


Both medicines are used to alleviate pain and change the way the body feels and responds to the brain. Both are efficacious medicines and help to overcome moderate to severe pain.

It is an informative blog, the aim is to provide information about these medicines. It is suggested that before taking any of these drugs, you should seek medical advice.

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