Propoxyphene Side Effects

Doctors prescribe propoxyphene to relieve moderate to severe pain. Recreational users target propoxyphene because of its euphoric effect.

Side Effect Information

Propoxyphene, like all medicine, may cause adverse reactions in some people. Many people experience no side effects or only minor side effects after using propoxyphene. Most side effects are not serious and disappear after a few days of normal use at prescribed doses. Some adverse reactions are serious and require immediate medical attention.

Potential for abuse, physical dependence or addiction are potential side effects associated with propoxyphene. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies substances according to its potential for abuse, and classifies propoxyphene as a Schedule II narcotic. This means propoxyphene carries a relatively high potential for abuse and mental or physical dependence.

A person who is physical dependent on propoxyphene will suffer withdrawal symptoms he stops taking propoxyphene. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting

Adverse reactions to this drug are similar to side effects associated with most opioids. These side effects usually become less severe or stop altogether with continued use at proper doses. The most serious side effect is respiratory problems that may lead to stopped breathing, circulatory depression, dangerously low blood pressure and shock. Physicians should expect side effects and treat patients accordingly.

Respiratory depression is a dangerous medical problem associated with opioid use. Respiratory depression is a serious breathing problem that is sometimes fatal. During respiratory depression, your lungs do not adequately exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide and other toxins. Symptoms of respiratory depression include slow or shallow breathing, unusual breathing patterns, gasping or wheezing, and a bluish tint around the eyes, mouth and fingertips.

Most Frequently Observed Propoxyphene Side Effects

The most frequently observed side effects associated with propoxyphene include dizziness, sedation, nausea and vomiting.

Allergic Reaction

Anyone can suffer an allergic reaction to propoxyphene or any other drug. Seek help immediately if you suffer any symptoms of an allergic reaction after taking propoxyphene - an allergic reaction is a serious, potentially fatal medical emergency. Bring the bottle of propoxyphene with the rest of your medications to help physicians determine the cause of the reaction.

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 appears within moments of exposure to propoxyphene, but anaphylaxis may start as late as a half an hour or longer after exposure to propoxyphene. Seek help immediately if you think you or someone you know is suffering anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis symptoms include hives, itching, flushed or pale skin. You may have a sensation of warmth during an episode of anaphylaxis. You might also feel like your throat is closing, your tongue is swelling up or that you have a lump in your throat. These sensations may lead to wheezing and trouble breathing. Your pulse may be weak and rapid; you may feel nauseated or even vomit. Some people become dizzy or faint. Others may express a feeling of impending doom.


Some people are hypersensitive to propoxyphene. Symptoms of hypersensitivity include allergic dermatitis, skin rash, hives, itching and swelling of the face.

Non-Serious Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects associated with this propoxyphene are not serious and disappear eventually. Continue taking propoxyphene but notify your doctor if the following side effects become unbearable or if they do not go away on their own:

Serious Side Effects

Some adverse reactions to propoxyphene are serious and require immediate medical attention. Stop taking propoxyphene and contact a doctor if you experience serious side effects, including:

By body system


Propoxyphene side effects may be more likely and more severe for people with kidney or liver disease. Some people report flu-like illnesses while taking propoxyphene.

With continued use, you may become tolerant of propoxyphene, which means you have to take larger doses more frequently to achieve the same pain-relieving or euphoric results.

Nervous system

Propoxyphene, like other opioids, work directly on the nervous system to relieve pain and cause euphoria. Propoxyphene use is associated with side effects affecting the nervous system.
Patients using propoxyphene report nervous system side effects including dizziness, sedation, stupor, delirium and somnolence. Serious nervous system side effects include problems with muscle coordination, coma and respiratory depression. The sedative effects of propoxyphene may increase the risk for injury in elderly patients.


It is possible to become dependent on propoxyphene, although the risk for abuse is less than some other opioids. Dependence means the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms after missing a dose or taking a smaller dose than usual.

Anyone can overdose on propoxyphene.

Large doses of propoxyphene or chronic use of this opioid may damage the inner ear and cause deafness. Propoxyphene overdose may damage the optic nerve leading from the eye to the brain.


Side effects associated with propoxyphene may affect the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular side effects include slow, fast or irregular heartbeat and abnormal or elevated heart rates. Propoxyphene use may cause blood pressure to fall dangerously low. Some people feel dizzy after taking propoxyphene. Cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, congestive heart failure and heart attack are possible.

Propoxyphene overdose may cause arrhythmias and heart blocks. Some of these effects may be due to a active ingredient, norpropoxyphene.


Nausea, vomiting, and constipation are relatively common gastrointestinal side effects associated with propoxyphene. Patients have also experience gastrointestinal bleeding and acute pancreatitis after taking propoxyphene.


Propoxyphene use may cause dermatologic side effects including rashes and itch.


Propoxyphene may affect the liver. Hepatic side effects include elevated liver function tests, yellowing of the skin or eyes and liver damage.


Individuals who inject propoxyphene may experience local side effects at the injection site.


Propoxyphene use may cause muscle problems after chronic oral use. Individuals who use the drug via intramuscular injection may experience muscle problems.


Propoxyphene may cause metabolic side effects including metabolic acidosis, which is too much acid in the system. Cases of severe low blood sugar have been reported in patients with chronic renal failure.


Propoxyphene may cause ocular side effects including eye swelling and blurred vision.


Some individuals may be hypersensitive to propoxyphene.


Psychiatric side effects associated with propoxyphene use include abnormal behavior, confusion, hallucinations and a change in mental status.


Propoxyphene may affect your breathing. The most severe breathing side effect associated with propoxyphene or other opioids is respiratory depression.