What Is A Lethal Dose Of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023

Dilaudid is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain with around-the-clock extended-release pills. If not properly monitored, a Dilaudid overdose can result in death.

What Is The Lethal Dose Of Dilaudid?

Dilaudid, also known by its generic name hydromorphone, is an opioid used to treat severe pain in hospitals through IV or oral administration. Without strict medical oversight, Dilaudid can be fatal.

Fatal overdose cases in which hydromorphone was the only substance in a person’s system ranged in concentration from 77 to 2684 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

Learn more about the lethal dose of commonly abused drugs.

Finding The Lethal Dose Of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)

The recommended dose for Dilaudid is 1 to 4 mg every four to six hours for pain. It would take a high dose of Dilaudid to result in death.

However, it is possible that people who have not been exposed to opioids very often could overdose at lower doses.

As such, the toxicity of Dilaudid (hydromorphone) depends on a few factors, such as:

  • tolerance
  • cross-tolerance
  • the route of administration
  • age
  • body compisition
  • general health

More Information About Dilaudid

Dilaudid belongs to a class of drugs called opioid analgesics, prescription medications used to treat moderate to severe pain.

The medicine is available in an extended-release tablet and is meant for those who need 24-hour pain relief.

Hydromorphone works by altering the way that the brain and nervous system respond to pain.

Mixing Morphine And Hydromorphone Can Have Lethal Results

Hydromorphone is about five to seven times more potent than morphine, so adverse reactions will occur at lower concentrations than with morphine.

There is a case series by a group of researchers that analyzed the deaths of eight individuals aged 19 to 91 years who ingested morphine and hydromorphone.

Most of these cases involved errors in prescribing, administering, monitoring, and other medical factors.

Additionally, a 2012 survey of over 3,000 health care workers found that there’s a lack of knowledge surrounding opioid dosage calculations.

Know The Signs Of A Dilaudid Overdose

Being aware of the warning signs of a Dilaudid overdose is extremely important, especially if you or someone you love use the medication.

Here are warning signs of a Dilaudid overdose to look out for:

  • difficulty breathing
  • slow breathing
  • muscle weakness
  • drowsiness
  • unable to respond or wake up
  • slow or stopped heartbeat
  • cold and clammy skin

A Dilaudid overdose can be reversed through naloxone. If you or a loved one take Dilaudid, talk to your doctor about getting naloxone and be family or care givers know how to use it.

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This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023
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