Oxymorphone Side Effects

General information about oxymorphone

Doctors prescribe oxymorphone to relieve moderate to severe pain. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, pharmacists filled more than a million oxymorphone prescriptions in 2007, making this drug one of the most commonly used pain relievers in the United States.

Oxymorphone, like all medicine, may cause side effects. Many people experience no, or minor, side effects while taking oxymorphone. Most adverse reactions are not serious and disappear after a few days use at prescribed doses. Some side effects are serious and require the attention of a medical professional.

The side effects associated with oxymorphone are similar to adverse reactions associated with opioids. The most serious side effect associated with oxymorphone or other opioids is respiratory problems that could cause you to stop breathing, experience circulation problems, severely low blood pressure and shock.

You are more likely to experience adverse reactions after using high doses of oxymorphone.

Whenever you take any opioid, including oxymorphone, you are at risk for the serious breathing condition known as respiratory depression. Respiratory depression is a serious medical emergency that may cause death. During respiratory depression, your lungs cannot adequately exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide and other blood gases. Symptoms of respiratory depression include slow or shallow breathing, unusual breathing patterns, gasping or wheezing, and a bluish tint around your eyes, mouth and fingertips.

Most Frequently Observed

A clinical trial followed 591 participants using oxymorphone for post-operative or cancer pain. At least 2 percent of participants reported the following side effects in decreasing incidence: nausea, fever, sleepiness, vomiting, itching, headache, dizziness, constipation, confusion. The most common side effect was nausea, affecting about 19 percent of respondents. About 14 percent of participants had a fever while 7 to 9 percent of respondents reported sleepiness, vomiting, itching, headache and dizziness. Less than 4 percent of trial participants experienced constipation or confusion.

Abuse, Dependence and Withdrawal

Potential for abuse, physical dependence or addiction are possible side effects from oxymorphone use. The DEA classifies substances according to the potential for abuse and this organization categorizes oxymorphone as a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it carries a relatively high potential for abuse and mental or physical dependence.

Anyone who uses oxymorphone for a long time can become dependent on or addicted to opioids. A doctor will diagnose you as being opioid-dependent if you feel withdrawal symptoms when the level of opioids suddenly declines in your body. This sudden drop can be the result of a missed dose, insufficient dose or because you used a medicine that reduced oxymorphone levels, such as naloxone.

Oxymorphone withdrawal causes physical symptoms similar to the flu and may result in psychological symptoms whose demoralizing affects can be just as overpowering as the physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Physical oxymorphone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, Runny Nose or Sneezing
  • Goose Bumps and Abnormal Skin Sensations
  • Hot Sweats and Cold Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Low Energy Level
  • Muscle Aches or Pains
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Runny Nose
  • Shivering, Tremors
  • Teary Eyes
  • Yawning

Psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Social isolation

Allergic Reaction

Anyone can suffer an allergic reaction after taking oxymorphone or any other medication. If you suffer any symptoms of an allergic reaction after taking oxymorphone, seek help immediately - an allergic reaction is a serious medical emergency that may even result in death. Bring your bottle of oxymorphone along with all your medications to help the emergency department doctor understand which medication may have caused the reactions.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the Mouth, Face, Lips or Tongue
  • Tightness in the Chest

Anaphylaxis is a severe form of an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis usually occurs within moments of exposure to oxymorphone but may happen as long as a half an hour or longer after you take this medication. Seek help immediately if you think you or someone you know is suffering anaphylaxis.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include hives, itching, flushed or pale skin. You might have a sensation of warmth. You might also feel like your tongue is swelling up, you have a lump in your throat, or that your throat is closing. These problems can lead to wheezing and trouble breathing. You might have a weak and rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or fainting. You may have a terrible feeling of impending doom.


Some patients may be hypersensitive to the effects of oxymorphone. Symptoms of hypersensitivity include allergic dermatitis, skin rash, hives, itching and swelling of the face.

Side Effects

Non-Serious Oxymorphone Side Effects

The most frequently reported side effects associated with oxymorphone are not serious. Continue taking oxymorphone if you experience any non-serious adverse reactions, but report any side effects that become bothersome to the prescribing physician.

Non-serious side effects may vary between oxymorphone preparations, which include oxymorphone, oxymorphone extended-release tablets, suppositories and tablets. All formulas of oxymorphone may cause constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea and vomiting. In addition to the above side effects, oxymorphone and oxymorphone suppositories may cause sleeplessness and weakness. Oxymorphone tablets may also cause anxiety, dry mouth, gas, lightheadedness or sweating. Extended Release Tablets may also decrease appetite and cause diarrhea, dry mouth, mild stomach pain, sweating, tiredness and trouble sleeping.

Serious Oxymorphone Side Effects

Serious adverse reactions associated may be associated with oxymorphone use and vary between oxymorphone preparations. Contact the prescribing physician immediately if you experience any serious oxymorphone side effects.

Serious side effects associated with all oxymorphone preparations include confusion and fast, slow or irregular heartbeat. Other serious adverse reactions common to all oxymorphone formulas include fainting, seizure, severe or persistent dizziness, slow or difficult breathing and vision changes.

Oxymorphone and oxymorphone suppositories may also cause difficulty urinating, lightheadedness, stomach pain and tremor.

Extended-Release Tablets may also cause chest pain, fever, hallucinations, mental or mood changes, severe or persistent constipation, stomach pain, or vomiting, drowsiness, or headache, shortness of breath, trouble urinating and unusual swelling.

Oxymorphone tablets are associated with additional serious adverse reactions such as fever, hallucinations, mental or mood changes, or drowsiness, severe or persistent headache or vomiting, shallow, slowed, or difficult breathing, trouble urinating and unusual swelling.

By Body System

Nervous system

Opioids such as oxymorphone act directly on the central nervous system, or CNS, to relieve pain and cause euphoria. Because of this direct action, there are several neurological side effects associated with oxymorphone use.

CNS oxymorphone side effects include drowsiness, sedation, unusual tiredness and weakness.

Oxymorphone may also cause lightheadedness, headache and dizziness. Oxymorphone may cause euphoria and its emotional opposite, dysphoria. This opioid may also cause dizziness. It can also interfere with the way you think, causing mental impairment, confusion and mental clouding. Oxymorphone, like other opioids, may cause vision changes including pinpoint pupils, double vision and blurred vision.

Side effects associated with CNS stimulation include nervousness, restlessness and trouble sleeping. Oxymorphone may cause side effects associated with CNS depression, including hallucinations and mental depression.


Constipation is one of the most commonly reported side effects associated with opioids such as oxymorphone. To soften stools and make it easier to go, drink six to eight full glasses of water each day you take oxymorphone. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about increasing your dietary fiber intake if you suffer constipation while taking oxymorphone, as dietary fiber is known to regulate the digestive system and ease constipation. Do not take stool softeners while using oxymorphone unless directed to do so by the prescribing physician.

Gastrointestinal side effects associated with oxymorphone use or abuse include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, biliary tract spasm, cramps or pain, loss of appetite, paralytic ileus, and toxic megacolon in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Paralytic ileus is an obstruction in your intestine, and toxic megacolon is a widening or dilation of the large intestine. Both paralytic ileus and toxic megacolon are life threatening and require immediate medical attention.


Oxymorphone may cause adverse cardiovascular reactions including fast, slow or abnormal heartbeats. This medication may also cause low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension, which is blood pressure that drops when you stand up. Oxymorphone may cause flushing, or a reddening of the face or other areas of the body.


Lung problems associated with oxymorphone use include respiratory depression, collapsed lung, bronchospasms like those experienced by asthmatics, spasm or swelling of the throat near the vocal cords and stopped breathing.


Oxymorphone use may result in spasm of the urinary tract, urinary retention or hesitancy, and low urinary output.


Oxymorphone use may cause you to sweat excessively.


Individuals who are hypersensitive to oxymorphone may experience allergic dermatitis, hives, skin rash, itching and swelling of the face.


Anyone may become tolerant, dependent upon or addicted to oxymorphone. This risk is increased with chronic use, high doses or using oxymorphone in a way not prescribed by a doctor, such as crushing, chewing, snorting or injecting.


Oxymorphone may cause vision problems, such as pinpoint pupils, double vision or blurred vision.


Oxymorphone use is associated with general side effects such as fatigue and weakness.


Injecting oxymorphone may cause local side effects including injection site reactions.


Oxymorphone use may affect your biliary tract, which includes your liver, gall bladder and the ducts connecting the two organs.


Oxymorphone is associated with adverse reactions affecting the kidneys, including spasm, urinary hesitation, urinary retention and kidney dysfunction that results in low urine output.