What Are The Differences Between Tramadol And Norco?

Pharmaceutical companies introduced the drug Tramadol in the United States in 1994. It was listed by the Food and Drug Administration under the unscheduled category because of the perception that it had a lower abuse potential. (1)

Norco, with a formulation of hydrocodone and paracetamol, is also marketed under different brands such as Lortab, Vicodin, Hycet, Zydone and more. Hydrocodone, being a narcotic opioid, is mixed with paracetamol to lessen the side effects of the former without jeopardizing its effectivity.

The FDA originally categorized the drug as a Schedule III drug. However, after a bunch of controversies hit hydrocodone combination drugs, FDA rescheduled it to Schedule II. This makes Norco and similar other drugs more regulated. (2)

Uses Of Tramadol And Norco

Tramadol and Norco are both used as pain relievers. Norco, however, uses two types of drugs to do so. One is Hydrocodone, which targets the user’s opioid receptors; while the other one is paracetamol.

Paracetamol reduces pain by inhibiting the production of pain causing chemicals in our body called prostaglandins. Paracetamol can also work as an analgesic, meaning it can reduce fever symptoms and lower body temperature. Other than pain relief, a study has shown that Tramadol can be administered to surgery patients for the reduction of postanesthesia shivering.

Also Read: Tramadol Vs Percocet

Side Effects Of Tramadol And Norco

Hydrocodone, Norco’s main component, has more adverse side effects than Tramadol. Tramadol, a synthetic opioid, is also thought to have a lower abuse potential than Hydrocodone combination drugs like Norco. (3)

However, due to the presence of Acetaminophen, the drug’s pain relieving property has increased without any increase in the likelihood of its side effects.

Listed below are some side effects that are common to both drugs: 

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Mild Anorexia/ Lack of Appetite
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Asthenia/ Weakness

There are also some side effects that are more common to each drug compared to the other, such as:

Side Effects of Tramadol:

  • Seizures
  • Sore throat

Side effects of Norco:

  • Low Blood pressure
  • Respiratory Depression

Effect On Pregnant Women

The FDA considers both Norco and Tramadol as grade C drugs concerning pregnant women. This means that these drugs can potentially harm an unborn fetus if ingested by the pregnant mother. Research has shown that fetuses from mothers that take any opioid medications such as Tramadol or Norco are often born with physical dependence.

Norco’s paracetamol, on the other hand, can adversely affect unborn fetuses. The Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California has conducted research that proved that infants born by mothers that often take the drug have a higher chance of having ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Price Of Tramadol And Norco

You can buy generic versions of Tramadol at an average price of $50 per 30 120 mg packs. However, pharmacies sell its branded version, Ultram, at $83 for the same amount. Patients can use their Medicare, or other insurances to pay for the Tramadol. (5)

A patient can buy Norco oral tablets for an average price of $290 per 100 tablets (325 mg-5 mg formulation). Illegal sellers, however, sell it for about $2-$3 per tablet. It is far more expensive than Tramadol. However, one can purchase the generic Hydrocodone/ Paracetamol for as low as 60 cents per tablet. (6)

Tramadol and Norco both require a prescription from a doctor for you to buy them. Remember to always consult your doctor before deciding which drug to take.

Can Tramadol And Norco Be Taken Together?

Taking Norco and other Hydrocodone/ Paracetamol drug with other opioids like Tramadol can demonstrate an increase in side effects most especially respiratory depression. It can also result in opioid overdose if done improperly. Always tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs when you ask for either Tramadol or Norco. (4)


Tramadol HCL. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4398-5239/tramadol-oral/tramadol-oral/details

Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017,  from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-251/hydrocodone-acetaminophen-oral/details

“Vicodin Prescribing Information for Health Care Professionals”. www.vicodin.com. Retrieved 2017-08-03.

Becker, Daniel E. (2011-01-01). “Adverse Drug Interactions”. Anesthesia Progress. 58(1): 31–41.

Norco Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017, from Drugs: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/norco

Tramadol Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017, from Drugs: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/tramadol