Side Effects of Meperidine (Demerol)
Meperidine, available as the brand Demerol, is an opioid or narcotic medication which is used to manage moderate-to-severe pain. Demerol primarly acts in the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain.
Before Taking Demerol
The FDA advisies to inform your healthcare provider if you have:
- Breathing problems or lung diseases
- A history of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or mental illness
- Brain tumor, or seizures
- A blockage in your stomach or intestines
- Sickle cell anemia
- A history of head injury, adrenal gland or urination problems
- Liver or kidney disease
- Problems with the gallbladderor thyroid, or curvature of the spine that affects breathing
Serious Side Effects
According to the FDA, dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with Demerol. Your thinking or reactions may be impaired by Demerol and driving or operating machinery should be avoided. Remain vigilant for the risks of falls or other accidents due to dizziness or severe sleepiness. Demerol can slow or stop your breathing causing life-threatening respiratory depression. Risk of respiratory depression is highest when starting Demerol, or when its dose is increased, and it can also occur at recommended doses. Demerol is a controlled substance and has the risks of abuse, misuse, and addiction like other opioid medicines used for pain. Demerol can result in habit-formation (addiction), and abuse which can lead to overdose or death. Demerol should never be shared with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction.
Common Side Effects
Most common side effects associated with Demerol treatment are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Meperidine should not be used if you have used a monoamine oxidase inhibitor inhibitor (MAOI) in the past 14 days. Inform your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take as some medications for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting, can result in a dangerous drug reaction, called serotonin syndrome, when taken along with Demerol
It is not known whether Meperidine will harm an unborn baby. This medicine may cause breathing problems in newborn baby if you use the meperidine during late pregnancy. Demerol can excrete into the breast milk and may harm a nursing baby.
When to Contact Your Doctor
The FDA advises to stop Demerol usage and contact your doctor immediately if you have weak or shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, severe drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out, confusion, mood changes, agitation, hallucinations, tremors, and muscle movements you cannot control, or fits (convulsions).
Advise your doctor as well if you expereince:
- Missed menstrual periods
- Impotence (failure to keep an erection during sexual intercourse)
- Sexual problems
- Loss of interest in sex
- Low cortisol levels
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Worsening tiredness or weakness
About Pharmacogenetic Testing
Pharmacogenetics is the study of how gene variations in the body affect the processing of drugs. Individuals who do not process drugs well are considered “poor metabolizers” more prone to severe side effects. “Extensive metabolizers” may not feel the medications’s benefits because they break down the body faster than normal. Being a poor metabolizer or extensive metabolizer creates problems for healthcare providers.
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Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; and Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
Read more about Rxight® Individualized Medicine