Opioids are very effective forms of medication in the treatment of moderate to severe pain symptoms. However, they are highly addictive and can have many adverse side effects. They should be used with caution.
Most of the side effects associated with opiate use are short term and are commonly experienced upon starting the. There are also some side effects that can have a longer impact and are more dangerous. Here are some of the side effects associated with the use of opiates:
- Skin changes – opiates can cause an allergic reaction called urticarial and patients may develop a skin rash which itchy, red bumps. This is a result of the body releasing histamine in response to having opiates in the system.
- Drowsiness or sedation – opiates can cause drowsiness and severe sedation. People who are taking them are advised to refrain from engaging in activities that will require their full attention such as driving and operating heavy machinery.
- Constipation – opiates will cause sluggish peristaltic movements in your digestive tract which results to the reduced movement of your body’s intestinal contents. This will lead to severe constipation and patients have to take laxatives or stool softeners especially if they are to undergo long term treatment.
- Miosis – opiates can cause a restriction of the pupil.
- Respiratory depression – opioids adversely affect your ventilator response and increases the risk for hypoventilation. As a result, your body’s breathing mechanism is suppressed as a response to low blood oxygen in your system.
- Change in heart rate – people taking opiates may either have a more rapid or a slower heart rate. It is also common for them to develop postural hypotension where your blood pressure might fall severely as you stand up from sitting or lying down.
- Spasms – opiate use sometimes results in urinary retention and spasms of the ureter. It is also common to see patients with biliary colic as well as spasms of the biliary tree as a result of opiate use.
- Psychological effect – aside from providing pain relief, opiates also gives you a sense of euphoria which may lead to having hallucinations, dizziness, delirium, and confusion.
- Opiate dependence and abuse – long term use of opiates can easily cause dependence on the medication, and those who have become dependent will experience withdrawal symptoms in the absence of opiates in their system.
Extra caution and care should be taken when using opiates for the management of pain as it can potentially result in many adverse effects, including overdose and death.