Opiate analgesics side effects

Side Effects Of Opioid Analgesics

September 6, 2013 – 11:03

Patient Controlled Analgesia - PCA | The Back Door

Opioid analgesics are commonly known as narcotics. They are most commonly used to treat acute pain after an injury or surgery, but may sometimes also be used to treat pain associated with certain cancers or other chronic medical conditions. While opioid analgesics are extremely effective at relieving discomfort, they have a number of side effects that can become persistent and bothersome. High doses or chronic use of opioids increases the likelihood of developing severe, potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Opioid analgesics commonly cause a number of side effects that appear soon after taking the drug for the first time. Many of these symptoms subside after a brief adjustment period. Drowsiness, constipation, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and itching are among the most common early side effects. Feelings of confusion may also occur, particularly in elderly people.
Nausea and itching usually decrease or disappear altogether within the first few days after taking the drug. Drowsiness usually also subsides after a few days, although some individuals may need stimulant drugs or caffeine to increase alertness if feelings of sleepiness persist.

Some bothersome side effects of opioid analgesics may persist for long periods of time. Constipation is a common side effect of opioids, particularly among older users. While this side effect may improve over time on its own, many users find that they have to supplement their diet with fiber, or use laxatives or enemas, to have a bowel movement. Urinary retention (problems urinating) are also common, especially in men whose prostate gland is enlarged (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Sometimes drugs that relax the bladder muscles must be prescribed to ease urination.
Opioids can also cause orthostatic hypotension, a dizziness that occurs upon standing. Commonly known as a "head rush, " dizziness occurs because of a sudden drop in blood pressure when going from a sitting to a standing position.

Taken over long periods of time, opioid analgesics may sometimes lose their effectiveness, leading users to have to take more of the drug to get the same level of pain relief. This is called tolerance. Tolerance can lead long-term users of opioids to develop a physical dependence on the drug. While physical dependence is not the same as addiction, it can still cause withdrawal symptoms upon stopping use of the drug. To reduce the frequency of withdrawal symptoms, users are usually advised by their doctors to slowly taper the dosage rather than quitting suddenly.

Source: www.livestrong.com

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