Demerol Side Effects

All medications may cause side effects. Demerol causes side effects usually associated with other opioids. Most commonly reported side effects are not serious and go away on their own. Continue taking Demerol but contact the prescribing physician if your side effects persist or become intolerable. Moderate to severe side effects associated with Demerol include:

  • Agitation
  • Changes in Vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Extreme Calm
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mood Changes
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pain or Cramps
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Demerol may cause serious side effects. Discontinue Demerol and seek medical assistance if you experience any serious side effects after taking this pain medication. Serious side effects include:

  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Fainting
  • Hives
  • Muscle Twitches Or Stiffening
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Slow Or Difficult Breathing
  • Slow, Fast or Pounding Heartbeat
  • Tremor
  • Visual or Auditory Hallucination

Demerol may cause side effects in the central nervous system, or CNS, including sleepiness, lightheadedness, disorientation and sedation. An individual may experience agitation or mood changes, such as euphoria or its emotional opposite - dysphoria. Sweating is common, as is weakness, tremors or muscle twitches. Some patients report visual disturbances, such as transient hallucinations, while others have complained of symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. Dilated pupils, headache and seizure has been reported.

CNS side effects can be depressive or excitatory. Physicians should not disregard excitatory symptoms as merely a side effect of the drug but as a possibly dangerous accumulation of a metabolite within Demerol, especially in individuals with kidney problems and in patients receiving Demerol through pump. Physicians may treat severe CNS side effects, especially respiratory depression, with naloxone.

Psychiatric side effects of Demerol include fearfulness, agitation, paranoia and hyper-vigilance, or being "on guard" or "ready for anything." Individuals may also experience auditory or visual hallucinations. Demerol carries a potential for psychological dependence.

This opioid pain reliever is associated with some gastrointestinal side effects. Demerol may cause a problem with a bile duct known as the sphincter of Oddi resulting in increased pressure and irritation to the gallbladder. As a result, Demerol may aggravate pain associated with biliary colic or gallstones rather than relieve it. Constipation is less common with Demerol use than with other opioids. Demerol may cause gastric reflux, commonly known as heartburn, dry mouth, nausea and sometimes vomiting. Individuals have reported cases of urinary retention after taking Demerol.

Abstinence from Demerol may cause withdrawal symptoms, especially if an individual has taken high doses or used this opioid for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, watery eyes, runny nose or yawning. Perspiration, chills, muscle pain and dilated pupils. Other symptoms also may also develop, including irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness and abdominal cramps. Some individuals experience insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate or heart rate.

Demerol may cause respiratory side effects, including respiratory depression and bronchospasms. Respiratory depression is a condition where the lungs do not adequately exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, characterized by slow and shallow breathing. Bronchospasms are a respiratory condition, in which exhaling is difficult and noisy. Bronchospasms are more frequent in patients with asthma or other pulmonary disease.

Demerol may cause itching, rash and sweating. This opioid may cause blood pressure to fall, especially in patients under anesthesia, who are dehydrated or on other medications. Demerol may cause phlebitis, an inflammation of a vein, usually in the legs.