Generic Name: meperidine (Oral route)
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Analgesic
Chemical Class: Opioid
Uses For Demerol
Meperidine is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It belongs to the group of medicines called narcotic analgesics (pain medicines). Meperidine acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain. This medicine should not be used to relieve chronic (long-lasting or recurrent) pain.
When meperidine is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. However, people who have continuing pain should not let the fear of dependence keep them from using narcotics to relieve their pain. Mental dependence (addiction) is not likely to occur when narcotics are used for this purpose. Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if treatment is stopped suddenly. However, severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented by gradually reducing the dose over a period of time before treatment is stopped completely.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using Demerol
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Safety and efficacy of meperidine have not been established in children. However, newborn babies and young infants are more likely to have respiratory depression (very slow breathing), which may require caution in patients receiving meperidine.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of meperidine in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney or liver problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving meperidine.
|All Trimesters||C||Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.|
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Chloral Hydrate
- Methylene Blue
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Sodium Oxybate
- St John's Wort
- Valproic Acid
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Addison's disease (adrenal gland problem) or
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Asthma, severe or
- Brain disease or
- Breathing problems, severe (e.g., hypercapnia, hypoxia) or
- Central nervous system (CNS) depression or
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or
- Cor pulmonale (serious heart condition) or
- Drug dependence, especially with narcotics, or history of or
- Enlarged prostate (BPH, prostatic hypertrophy) or
- Head injuries, history of or
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or
- Increased pressure in the head or
- Kyphoscoliosis (severe curvature of the spine with breathing problems) or
- Mental illness, history of or
- Pheochromocytoma (adrenal gland tumor) or
- Problems with passing urine or
- Respiratory depression (very slow breathing) or
- Sickle cell anemia (inherited blood disorder) or
- Weakened physical condition—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
- Heart rhythm problems (e.g., atrial flutter, tachycardia) or
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) or
- Seizures, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
- Lung or breathing problems (e.g., respiratory insufficiency), severe or
- Serotonin syndrome—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
Proper Use of meperidine
This section provides information on the proper use of a number of products that contain meperidine. It may not be specific to Demerol. Please read with care.
Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. This is especially important for elderly patients, who may be more sensitive to the effects of pain medicines. If too much of this medicine is taken for a long time, it may become habit-forming (causing mental or physical dependence).
Measure the oral liquid with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. Mix each dose of the liquid in 4 ounces (one-half cup) of water and drink all of the water mixture in order to get the correct amount of medicine.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (solution or tablets):
- For moderate to severe pain:
- Adults—50 to 150 milligrams (mg) given every 3 or 4 hours as needed.
- Children 1 year of age and older—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 1.1 to 1.8 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per dose given every 3 or 4 hours as needed.
- Children younger than 1 year of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For moderate to severe pain:
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Meperidine can cause serious unwanted effects if taken by adults who are not used to strong narcotic pain medicines. Make sure you store the medicine in a safe and secure place to prevent others from getting it.
Flush the unused Demerol® oral liquid or tablets down the toilet.
Precautions While Using Demerol
It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child while you are taking this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you or your child should continue to use it.
Do not use this medicine if you or your child have taken a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor in the past 2 weeks. MAO inhibitors are used for depression, and some examples are isocarboxazid (Marplan®), phenelzine (Nardil®), selegiline (Eldepryl®), and tranylcypromine (Parnate®). If meperidine is used with MAO inhibitors, you or your child may have unwanted effects like confusion, agitation, restlessness, stomach or intestinal symptoms, a sudden high temperature, an extremely high blood pressure, or convulsions.
This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that can make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; other prescription pain medicine or narcotics; medicine for seizures or barbiturates; muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the medicines listed above while you or your child are using this medicine.
This medicine may be habit-forming. If you or your child feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.
Using narcotics for a long time can cause severe constipation. To prevent this, your doctor may direct you or your child to take laxatives, drink a lot of fluids, or increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, because continuing constipation can lead to more serious problems.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem. Also, lying down for a while may relieve the dizziness or lightheadedness.
This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, confused, or disoriented. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.
Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you or your child are using this medicine. Serious unwanted effects can occur if certain medicines are given together with meperidine.
If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks or longer, do not change your dose or suddenly stop using it without checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you or your child to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help prevent worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as abdominal or stomach cramps, anxiety, fever, nausea, runny nose, sweating, tremors, or trouble with sleeping.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause serious unwanted effects in your newborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you think you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Demerol Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine 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:Incidence not known
- Blurred vision
- chest pain or discomfort
- cold, clammy skin
- 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
- fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- fast, weak pulse
- feeling of warmth
- irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
- 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
- tightness in the chest
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- upper abdominal or stomach pain
- very low blood pressure or pulse
- very slow breathing
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur: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 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
- relaxed and calm
- 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
- hives or welts
- night blindness
- overbright appearance of lights
- redness of the skin
- seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
- trouble with sleeping
- tunnel vision
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
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More about Demerol (meperidine)
- Other brands: Meperitab