How Long Does Norco Stay in Your System? What are Norco Side Effects?

Norco Side Effects
How long does Norco stay in your system

When you’re experiencing pain, one of the first things you’ll do is reach for a bottle of pain relievers and hope that the pain you’re experiencing will go away. In some cases, over-the-counter medication may not be enough, and you’ll need to resort to prescription medication for a much more powerful dose. One of the most common prescription medications for pain is Norco.

How long will it last in your body? What are the side effects when you take the drug? What’s the right dosage? Are there better alternatives? If you find yourself asking these questions, stick around. You’ll find everything you need to know about Norco in this article, and we’ll answer the most common questions about this drug. Let’s get to it!

How long does Norco stay in your system?

Norco is a prescription medicine that treats pain symptoms and can be used alone or combined with other medications. Norco combines hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever, with acetaminophen, an over-the-counter non-opioid pain reliever. The latter is also a common active ingredient for cough, cold, and fever medications. 

Before we dive into understanding how long medication can stay active in the body, it’s essential to understand half-life, the amount of time it takes for half a dose of a drug to leave your body. 

So when we’re talking about the half-life of Norco, it’s important to consider the half-life of both hydrocodone and acetaminophen individually. For hydrocodone, its half-life is about four hours. So when it reaches hour five or six, the majority of the drug is out of your system. 

Norco Side Effects
Norco Side Effects

But even if you reach this point, you should know that hydrocodone is detectable in your urine for up to three days, and you’ll most likely test positive for opiates even if you’ve had the drug days before. 

As for acetaminophen, its half-life is a little over an hour up to about three hours. This is because acetaminophen is absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract, eliminated by the liver, and then excreted by the kidney as metabolites. In 24 hours, most acetaminophen in your body may have been passed out through urine. 

  • Blood

Urine testing and blood testing are often always combined to check for the availability of drugs, such as opioids, in the system. A blood test is necessary because sometimes, urine tests are susceptible to false positives, but you should know that the blood detection window is more limited. 

When you take a blood test, Norco can be detected within the 24-hour window after ingesting the last dose. This type of test is often practiced in forensic and legal contexts and situations. 

  • Urine

Urine tests are administered more than blood tests because they’re less invasive, cost-efficient, and relatively easy to administer and can detect Norco in the urine for up to three days. However, as mentioned earlier, urine tests are prone to giving false positives, which could interfere with investigations and background checks. 

So if you’ve been taking Norco regularly, you’ll have a high chance of testing positive for opioids in a standard urine drug screening. 

  • Hair

Norco metabolites can be detected in hair follicle samples for up to 90 days since the last dose. 

Although this is an efficient way to know if a person has been using this drug, hair testing is quite costly. This is why this type of testing is often used in situations where law enforcement or employers look into a person’s past drug use or abuse. 

  • Saliva

Because Norco has high hydrocodone contents, this drug is detectable in saliva for up to three days since the last ingestion. Although saliva testing is easy to administer and is relatively less invasive, the specimen size can still present some testing challenges and faults. 

Norco side effects and Norco dosage

Side effects

After ingesting Norco and once the drug has taken effect, you may experience some side effects. Some of these include:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

These side effects will eventually go over time. However, if you take a large amount and abuse this type of drug, you may experience the following side effects:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Acute abdominal conditions

If the mild symptoms persist or you’re experiencing severe symptoms, you must seek medical assistance right away and stop using the drug. 


Depending on the severity of pain, the dosage should be adjusted accordingly to effectively respond to the patient’s body. However, you should remember that you can develop tolerance to hydrocodone with continued use and may experience dose-related adverse effects.

Ideally, an adult must take one or two tablets every 4-6 hours to address the pain. Overall, the total daily dosage shouldn’t exceed eight tablets; doing so will put you at risk for health complications. 

Norco vs. other painkillers

There are various over-the-counter painkillers in the market today, and you might be familiar with some of them, like Tylenol and Ibuprofen medications.

However, some drugs are as powerful and potent as Norco and are considered proper alternatives for the drug. Below are two of the most common Norco alternatives. We’ll be discussing their similarities, differences, and the side effects you may experience with both proper and misuse of the drug.

Vicodin vs. Norco

Similar to Norco, Vicodin is also made up of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Both medications work by changing the response of your body towards pain and administered orally through tablet form. Since both pills contain opioids, you must only take them after the doctor has prescribed you the drug. 

Although they are quite similar, they have a few differences, such as the percentage of compounds, dosages, and storage temperatures. As for side effects, they are quite similar. If you don’t take these properly, you may experience the following:

  • Problems in the central nervous system
  • Respiratory depression
  • Hearing impairment or loss
  • Skin conditions and dermatological problems
  • Genitourinary system problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fever, headache, swelling, etc. 
Vicodin vs Norco
Norco vs Vicodin

Percocet vs. Norco

Norco and Percocet are drugs that contain opioids and acetaminophen. This combination does a fine job of treating several types of pain effectively and simultaneously. In Norco, the opioid ingredient you’ll find is hydrocodone. Meanwhile, Percocet contains oxycodone. 

These drugs have a half-life of 4 hours and can treat the acute onset of pain and give your relief for about 4-6 hours; taking these medications can put you in a relaxed and happy state. 

However, you should know that people who take Norco experience constipation and stomach pains more than people who use Percocet. And because Percocet uses a combination of oxycodone and ibuprofen, you may experience fewer adverse effects. 

Now that you have an overview of what Norco is, how long it can stay in your body, the different side effects, and similar drugs, you can speak to your doctor if you’d like to use this type of medication for treatment. Norco is a potent drug, and your doctor must give you a “go” signal before you can use it, and you mustn’t abuse and misuse this drug. If you don’t, you may end up suffering from adverse effects, which could ultimately be irreversible and fatal.