Demerol Side Effects

Generic Name: meperidine

Note: This document contains side effect information about meperidine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Demerol.

Some side effects of Demerol may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

For the Consumer

Applies to meperidine: oral solution, oral syrup, oral tablet

Other dosage forms:

Along with its needed effects, meperidine (the active ingredient contained in Demerol) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking meperidine:

Incidence not known
  • Blurred vision
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • cold, clammy skin
  • confusion
  • convulsion
  • cough
  • decrease in the frequency of urination
  • decrease in urine volume
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • difficulty in passing urine (dribbling)
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting
  • fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • fast, weak pulse
  • feeling of warmth
  • hives
  • irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
  • itching
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • muscle twitching or jerking
  • painful urination
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  • rhythmic movement of the muscles
  • shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash
  • sweating
  • tightness in the chest
  • trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
  • unconsciousness
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • upper abdominal or stomach pain
  • very low blood pressure or pulse
  • very slow breathing
  • wheezing

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking meperidine:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Bluish color of the fingernails, lips, skin, palms, or nail beds
  • change in consciousness
  • decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • loss of consciousness
  • severe sleepiness
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness

Some side effects of meperidine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Drowsiness
  • nausea
  • relaxed and calm
  • vomiting
Incidence not known
  • Anxiety
  • blurred or loss of vision
  • confusion about identity, place, and time
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • disturbed color perception
  • double vision
  • dry mouth
  • false or unusual sense of well-being
  • halos around lights
  • headache
  • hives or welts
  • hyperventilation
  • irritability
  • nervousness
  • night blindness
  • overbright appearance of lights
  • redness of the skin
  • restlessness
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • trouble with sleeping
  • tunnel vision
  • weakness

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to meperidine: compounding powder, injectable solution, intravenous solution, oral syrup, oral tablet

Nervous system

Central nervous system side effects have included sleepiness, lightheadedness, sedation, sweating, agitation, tremor, mood changes (e.g., euphoria, dysphoria), weakness, headache, disorientation, respiratory depression, delirium, seizures, tremors, dizziness, visual disturbances (e.g., transient hallucinations), muscle twitches, dilated pupils, and Parkinsonian symptoms.

Central nervous system side effects may be either depressant or excitatory. Excitatory symptoms are sometimes ignored as possible side effects of meperidine, but may be due to the accumulation of a metabolite, normeperidine. Accumulation of normeperidine occurs more frequently in patients with renal insufficiency and in patients who are receiving meperidine via a patient-controlled analgesia pump.

Severe adverse effects, such as respiratory depression, may be treated with the opioid antagonist naloxone.

Psychiatric

Psychiatric side effects include fearfulness, agitation, paranoia, hypervigilance, and auditory and visual hallucinations.

Psychological dependence on meperidine may develop.

Gastrointestinal

Meperidine may cause contraction of the sphincter of Oddi, thereby increasing intrabiliary pressure. As a result, meperidine (the active ingredient contained in Demerol) may aggravate rather than relieve biliary colic.

Constipation is less common with meperidine than some other narcotics.

Gastrointestinal side effects including increased gastroesophageal reflux, increased biliary pressure, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting have been reported.

Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity side effects including anaphylaxis and shock have been reported.

Other

Other side effects including an opioid abstinence or withdrawal syndrome has been reported.

The opioid abstinence or withdrawal syndrome is characterized by some or all of the following: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, mydriasis. Other symptoms also may also develop, including: irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness, abdominal cramps, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, or heart rate.

Respiratory

There are case reports of bronchospasm occurring in patients with a history of asthma after receiving meperidine (the active ingredient contained in Demerol) Because of this effect and possible respiratory depression, meperidine should be used with caution in patients with severe reactive or obstructive pulmonary disease.

Respiratory side effects including bronchospasm have been reported in patients with underlying pulmonary disease.

Cardiovascular

Hypotension occurs most commonly in patients who are under anesthesia, who are dehydrated, and who are receiving other medications.

Cardiovascular side effects including phlebitis have been reported. Hypotension has been reported rarely.

Genitourinary

Genitourinary side effects including urinary retention have been reported.

Dermatologic

Dermatologic side effects including rash, pruritus, and sweating have been reported.

Musculoskeletal

Musculoskeletal side effects including a case of meperidine-induced muscular rigidity have been reported.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

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