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Narcotic Pain Management

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What do I need to know about narcotics?

A narcotic is a type of medicine used to treat pain. Examples of narcotics are codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

Why is it important to manage my pain?

Pain can cause changes in your physical and emotional health, such as depression and sleep problems. Pain control and management may help you rest, heal, and return to your daily activities.

What are the side effects of narcotic medicines?

The most common side effect is constipation. Drink more liquids and eat high-fiber foods to help prevent constipation. Ask your healthcare provider what liquids are right for you and how much you should drink. Also ask for a list of foods that contain fiber. Other side effects include nausea, sleepiness, and itchiness. You may need to take your narcotic medicine with food to decrease nausea. Ask your healthcare provider other ways to manage side effects.

Why it is important that I take narcotic medicines as directed?

  • Health problems such as trouble breathing, liver or kidney damage, or stomach bleeding may occur. Any of these problems can become life-threatening.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be included in some narcotic medicines. Too much of these medicines can cause liver or kidney damage, or stomach bleeding. These problems can become life-threatening.
  • Dependence means your body needs the medicine to keep it from going through withdrawal.
  • Tolerance means the medicine does not control pain as well as it used to. You need higher doses of the medicine to get pain relief.
  • Addiction means you are not able to control the use of the medicine. You use it when you do not have pain and you have cravings for the medicine.

What do I need to know about narcotic safety?

  • Take your medicine as directed. Ask if you need more information on how to take your medicine correctly. Follow up with your healthcare provider regularly. You may need to have your dose adjusted. Do not use narcotic medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Narcotic medicines can be transferred to your baby through your blood and breast milk.
  • Give your healthcare provider a list of all your medicines. Include any over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbs. It can be dangerous to take narcotics with certain other medicines, such as antihistamines.
  • Keep your medicine in a safe place. Store your narcotic medicine in a locked cabinet to keep it away from children and others.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you use narcotics. Alcohol use with a narcotic medicine can make you sleepy and slow your breathing rate. You may stop breathing completely.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after you take narcotic medicine. Narcotic medicine can make you drowsy and make it hard to concentrate. You may injure yourself or others if you drive or operate heavy machinery while taking your medicine.

Call 911 or have someone call 911 for any of the following:

  • You are breathing slower than normal, or you have trouble breathing.
  • You cannot be woken.
  • You have a seizure.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your heart is beating slower than usual.
  • Your heart feels like it is jumping or fluttering.
  • You have trouble staying awake.
  • You have severe muscle pain or weakness.
  • You see or hear things that are not real.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You are too dizzy to stand up.
  • Your pain gets worse or you have new pain.
  • Your pain does not get better after you use your narcotic medicine.
  • You cannot do your usual activities because of side effects from the narcotic.
  • You are constipated or have abdominal pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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